Trade union facility time

The University of Sheffield recognises the important role that the recognised campus trade unions (TUs) play in contributing to the working environment and conditions for all members of staff.

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Through the Joint Union Consultative Committee (JUCC), the University and colleagues from the Universities and Colleges Union (UCU), Unite the Union, Unison and GMB have been able to have successful discussions on a range of matters relating to terms and conditions of employment, as well as important topics such as Reward and Recognition, academic career pathways, casualisation, and gender pay.

We continue to have positive discussions on these and other important matters relating to the work and working lives of the whole workforce.

In order for this positive work to take place, the University recognises that TU representatives need time away from their jobs in order to represent their members on an individual or collective basis. 

This is known as facility time: the provision of paid or unpaid time off from an employee’s normal role to undertake TU duties and activities as a TU representative on behalf of the TU’s members.

On 1st April 2017, the Trade Union (Facility Time Publication Requirements) Regulations 2017 took effect. These regulations were laid following the enactment of the Trade Union Act 2016 passed in May 2016. The Act requires public sector employers to publish information on facility time. The purpose of these regulations is to promote transparency and allow for public scrutiny of facility time.

They create scope for sensible savings by improving public accountability, which will ensure taxpayer’s money is only spent on justifiable and accountable trade union work that represents value for money.

Like other organisations, the University is required to publish certain information (see below) by 31st July every year, for the preceding 1 April to 31 March period. The information is to be published in three places: on the employer’s website, in the annual accounts and on a central government website.

For the period 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021, the output figures are:

Table 1: Relevant Union Officials

No. of employees who were relevant union officials during the relevant period Full-time equivalent employee number
76 70.66

Table 2: Percentage of time spent on facility time

Percentage of time Number of employees
0% 17
1 to 50% 56
51 to 99% 0
100% 0

Table 3: Percentage of pay bill spent on facility time

Requirement Figures
Provide the total cost of facility time £192,144.30
Provide the total pay bill £391,184,948
Provide the percentage of the total pay bill spent on facility time
calculated as (total hours spent on trade union activities by
relevant union officials during the relevant period/total paid hours) x 100
0.05%

Table 4: Paid trade union activities

Time spent on paid trade union activities as a percentage of total paid facilities hours calculated as total hours spent on trade union activities during the relevant period/total paid facility time hours x 100 40.58%

The University continues to collate information on facilities time and will next publish the figures for the period 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022 by 31 July 2022.

Any queries relating to this document should be directed to Ian Wright, Director of Human Resources (i.d.wright@sheffield.ac.uk) or Hannah Morgan, Associate Director of Human Resources, Organisational Development (h.j.morgan@sheffield.ac.uk).

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