Facility time Regulations and Check Off arrangement covering April 2018 to March 2019
New regulations on facility time and check-off (DOCAS – Deductions of contributions at source) were introduced to the Westminster Parliament in March 2017. They require employers to calculate spending on facility time from 1 April 2017, and to report it publicly. Employers are not required to report on the individual unions involved or on a breakdown of different trade union activities.
The regulations for check-off (DOCAS) require workplaces to have an agreement in place by 10th March 2018 where trade unions pay a reasonable sum for the administrative costs of the scheme if they want to retain it.
Negotiations took place with Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust to provide a Service Level agreement with remuneration to continue to provide a DOCAS option for unison members.
Both sets of regulations have changed substantially from the Government’s initial proposals.
Facility time reporting requirements
The regulations require public sector employers (except those in Northern Ireland and any devolved public authorities in Wales) to report every financial year on:
- The total number of employees who are union reps
- The number of full-time equivalent reps employed
- How many TU reps spent 0%, 1-50%, 51-99% and 100% of their time on TU duties
- The total pay bill and percentage of pay bill spent on facility time (pay bill calculated using gross wages, and employer pension and NI contributions)
- Time spent on paid TU activities as a percentage of total paid facility time hours. By ‘activities’ (rather than duties), the Government means the definition set out in the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act (1992), Clause 17 1 (b), “any activities in relation to which the employee is acting as a representative of the union”
A report on facility time used in a financial year must now be published as information on the employer’s website or any annual report.
The Staff Side agreed with The Head of Human Resources that they would provide information on paid facility time used for each financial year from 1st April to 31st March.
For the current financial year the following applies.
Data collected from 1st April 2018 to 31st March 2019 from the Unions that use facility time is as follows
As per Trust Recognition Agreement working in Partnership Policy, time allocated for staff side hours are
Equates to per week 86.25 hrs
Per month 373.75 hrs
Per Year 4485 hrs
Staff side allocated time from 1st April 2018 to 31st March 2019 is 4485 hours equal to 2.3 WTE as per the agreement.
Additional paid hours used from 1st April 2018 to 31st March 2019 is 885 hours equal to 0.45WTE
Additionally, data has been collected separately on unpaid hours that union representatives have given to ensure Trust Business and their union needs have been met.
All Union representatives that have submitted the information and who are participating in using staff side hours and paid facility time which are used for Union activity which is outlined in the Recognition agreement helps benefits the organisation on allowing facility time to their employees.
Here are some of the benefits below:
- Facilitation of partnership working with trade unions that improved workplace relations and the reputation of an employer as “a good place to work‟. Examples include joint development and review of policies, joint working to address health and safety, joint working on Health and well-being plus many other initiatives.
- Earlier intervention in relation to complaints, grievances and disciplinary’s. Helping to prevent escalation into more serious problems; thereby saving organisations and taxpayer’s money by reducing the impact on staff time and possible legal costs.
- Better communication to manage change during restructuring and redundancy processes; thereby improving understanding of decisions, minimising negative impacts and reducing the number of working days lost through industrial action.
- In addition to benefits arising from the use of facility time, a report also found that facility time also had value in itself: “The value of facility time in this respect came from better representation of members‟ views and improved availability of representatives to work with employers on areas of common interest.” Where reps were released or seconded from their substantive posts, the quality of representation and availability of reps was further improved because reps were able to:
- Focus further on their duties;
- Prepare better for discussions with managers;
- Build up relationships of respect and trust with managers over time.
Staff Side request that the Trust acknowledge the importance of facility time allocated as per the Recognition Agreement and continue to support the individual representative and there recognised unison to benefit the Trust in valuing Staff rights to be represented in the workplace and continue to engage in partnership working.