Every trade union representative working for an employer where the trade union is recognised for collective bargaining will have legal right to paid release from work to carry out duties and activites relevant to their role. They also have legal rights to attend training relevant to those duties and activities.

The extracts below are taken from the ACAS Code of Practice and the TUC guide to the SRSC regulations.

ACAS Code of Practice 3 (2010) - 'Time off for trade union duties and activities'


21. Employees who are union representatives of an independent trade union recognised by their employer are to be permitted reasonable time off during working hours to undergo training in aspects of industrial relations relevant to the carrying out of their trade union duties. These duties must be concerned with:

  • negotiations with the employer about matters which fall within section 178(2) TULR(C)A and for which the union is recognised to any extent for the purposes of collective bargaining by the employer;
  • or any other functions on behalf of employees of the employer which are related to matters falling within section 178(2) TULR(C)A and which the employer has agreed the union may perform;
  • matters associated with information and consultation concerning collective redundancy and the Transfer of Undertakings, and the negotiation of an agreement under Regulation 9 of the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employees) Regulations

24. Training should be in aspects of employment relations relevant to the duties of a union representative. There is no onerecommended syllabus for training as a union representative’s duties will vary according to:


  •  the collective bargaining arrangements at the place of work, particularly the scope of the recognition or other agreement
  •  the structure of the union 
  •  the role of the union representative
  • the handling of proposed collective redundancies or the transfer of undertakings.


25. The training must also be approved by the Trades Union Congress or by the independent trade union of which the employee is a union representative.


The Safety Representatives & Safety Committees Regulations (SRSC) 1977


The paragraph references below are from the TUC gide to the SRSC Regulations

 Paragraph 36: Trade unions are responsible for appointing safety representatives and when the trade union wishes a safety representative to receive training relevant to his function it should inform management of the course it has approved and supply a copy of the syllabus, indicating its contents, if the employer asks for it.

It should normally give at least a few weeks’ notice of the safety representatives it has nominated for attendance. The number of safety representatives attending training courses at any one time should be that which is reasonable in the circumstances, bearing in mind such factors as the availability of relevant courses and the operational requirements of the employer. Unions and management should endeavour to reach agreement on the appropriate numbers and arrangements and refer any problems which may arise to the relevant agreed procedures.

Paragraph 42: Regulation 4(2) requires that employers allow health and safety representatives paid time as is necessary, during working hours, to perform their functions. In practice, this means they should carry out their functions such as workplace inspections or attending health and safety committee meetings as part of their normal job, and employers will need to take account of this in their workload.

Paragraph 43: Regulation 4(2) also requires that employers allow health and safety representatives paid time as is necessary to undergo training in aspects of their functions that is ‘reasonable in all the circumstances’. The important point is that what is reasonable in all the circumstances is not always just what is necessary. Training does not have to be the necessary bare minimum to fulfil the safety representatives’ functions but it does have to be reasonable in all the circumstances. When considering what is reasonable in the circumstances, the guidance given by the Commission in the Code of Practice approved under regulation 4(2)(b) should be borne in mind. You may also wish to refer to general principles of case law in this area. Case law is fact-specific and subject to change so you must satisfy yourself of the current position and ensure your arrangements satisfy the law.


Please contact your National Official or Learning Organiser Martin Roberts if you have any concerns about securing your legal rights,