In April 2017, new regulations regarding the publishing of information about the time that is taken off by union officials under certain circumstances came in to force. This is called facility time and this article is to assist you in making sure that you are compliant with this new law.
Known as the Trade Union (Facility Time Publication Requirements) Regulations 2017 (the “Regulations”) they require any relevant public sector employer to publish information, annually, regarding facility time.
What is facility time?
Facility time is time off that is permitted by the institution to enable a relevant union official to:
- Carry out trade union duties;
- Accompany a worker to a disciplinary or grievance hearing; or
- Carry out duties and receive training under the Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977.
Who has to report on facility time and when?
The Regulations set out a list of the bodies who are required to provide facility time reports. These include:
- Higher education corporations;
- Institutions in the further education sector;
- A university, including any college, school, hall or other institution of that university, receiving financial support;
- The proprietor of an academy school, a 16-19 academy or an alternative provision academy; and
- The governing body of a foundation school, voluntary aided school or foundation special school.
The annual reporting requirement applies to all bodies with more than 49 employees during the entirety of any seven month period within the 12-month reporting period beginning on 01 April in any given year. The first relevant period is between 01 April 2017 and 31 March 2018.
The information that must be published by such bodies must cover the 12 month period. The information gathered must be published on the employer’s website and in their annual report no later than 31 July of the calendar year in which the relevant period ends.
What information do you need to publish?
The information that must be published (as set out in Schedule 2) is as follows:
The number of relevant union officials
The total number of employees who were relevant union officials and the number of full-time equivalent representatives employed in the relevant time period.
Percentage of time spent on facility time
A breakdown of those relevant union officials employed during the relevant period who spent the following portion of their working hours on facility time:
- 51-99%; and
This information must be provided in a table with the relevant numbers of employees entered alongside each of the four different percentage ranges.
Percentage of pay bill spent on facility time
A body is required to give three specific figures:
- The total cost of facility time;
- The total pay bill; and
- The percentage of the total pay bill spent on Facility Time;
The total cost of facility time is calculated as follows:
Calculation of the hourly cost of each employee who is a relevant union official during the relevant 12 month period and multiply the hourly cost by the number of paid facility time hours spent by that employee on facility time during the relevant 12 month period. In circumstances where there is more than one employee who is a relevant union official, add together each of the amounts produced in the step above.
Paid trade union activities
You are also required to publish, as a percentage of total paid facility time hours, how many hours were spent by relevant union officials undertaking paid trade union ‘activities’ as opposed to ‘duties’ during the relevant 12 month period. Paid trade union ‘activities’ is the time taken off by relevant union officials during their working hours for the purpose of taking part in any activities in relation to which they are acting as a representative of the union and for which they receive wages from the institution, for example, such as meetings with full-time union officers to discuss issues relevant to the workplace. Total paid facility time hours, therefore, means the total of all hours spent on facility Time (whether a duty or an activity) by relevant union officials.
It is important to remember that it does not include trade union activities for which employees are not paid by the employer.
What does this mean for you?
If these Regulations apply to you and your employees, we would advise that you take action now, as the 31 July deadline is fast approaching.
If you require assistance with these new reporting obligations, along with any other HR or employment law issue, please contact one of our Employment Law experts for a confidential chat on 01332 226149.