Agreement on facilities for Union officials

Scope and purpose

This Facilities Agreement has been made between Oxford Brookes University (the University) and the recognised trade unions: UCU and UNISON (the unions).  

The purpose of this agreement is to set out the arrangements for how reasonable time off for trade union duties and activities will be managed alongside other facility arrangements that will be made available.

This agreement includes all statutory rights and draws on the principles of the ACAS Code of Practice - Time off for Trade Union Duties and Activities and their Advisory Booklet, Trade Union Representation in the Workplace (available on the ACAS website). In line with the ACAS Advisory Booklet, Trade Union Representation in the Workplace, this agreement uses:

  • The term ‘union representative’ to describe an employee working at the University who is elected or appointed by a recognised union to represent staff who are union members at the University. 
  • The term ‘health and safety representative’ to describe an employee who has been elected or appointed by a recognised union to be a health and safety representative of the union at the University.
  • The term ‘union member’ to describe a member of a recognised trade union who is employed by the University.
  • Definitions for ‘trade union duties’ and ‘trade union activities’ will be as set out in the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.
  • Representation covers employees of Oxford Brookes University.


For further information regarding trade union representatives, please contact the People Directorate.


Both the University and the unions:

  • believe in fostering a constructive and cooperative relationship to ensure the on-going success of the University for the benefit of all stakeholders. 
  • have joint responsibility for ensuring that this agreement works. 


Representatives will be elected or appointed by a recognised union to represent staff who are union members at the University.  The  union branch will determine the appropriate number of representatives and determine how the allocation of roles and agreed time will be made across the representatives.

It is recognised that a spread of union representatives from across the faculties and directorates within the University is desirable. To achieve this:

  • The Unions will make best endeavours to secure interest from across the University.  
  • The University will raise awareness and understanding of the principles and provisions set out in this facilities agreement.

If it becomes apparent there is a genuine conflict of interest this will be discussed with the Branch Secretary from each union and it should be avoided where possible that union representatives represent a union member from the same department at a meeting under the University’s Disciplinary, Capability, Attendance or Grievance procedures.

Each union will notify the Secretary of the Joint Staff Committee in writing of the names and roles of their union representatives as soon as possible after they are appointed and subsequently where there are changes.

Paid time off work for union representatives for union duties

The University fulfils its responsibilities, as required by UK employment law, to give reasonable paid time off to the union representatives of the recognised trade unions during working hours for the purposes listed below (this list is not exhaustive but covers most of the unions duties that happen at the University and is commensurate with the guidance from ACAS at

  • Carrying out duties to foster constructive employee relations (e.g. for preparing for and attending formal and informal Joint Staff Committee meetings and employment relations meetings).
  • Negotiating collective bargaining agreements concerning terms and conditions of employment and the physical conditions of work and carrying out duties relating to or connected with these collective bargaining agreements. 
  • Consulting on changes to policies and procedures (which are not subject to negotiated collective bargaining agreements), the physical conditions of work and proposed restructures. 
  • Accompanying and representing a union member employed by the University at a formal disciplinary, capability, absence or grievance hearing, if the union representative has been certified by the union as being capable of acting as a worker's companion. (There may also be circumstances when an employee may be allowed to be accompanied by a certified union representative at an informal meeting where deemed appropriate if it is anticipated that their involvement will be constructive and will facilitate the speedy, informal resolution of an issue). 
  • Receiving information and being involved in consultations regarding any proposed compulsory redundancies or TUPE transfers - under Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) 2006 legislation.
  • Undergoing training in aspects of employee relations (it is the responsibility of each union to ensure that their union representatives are appropriately briefed and trained to carry out their union duties and that they understand the rules and practices of their union, the appropriate agreements and procedures in place and the practice of constructive employee relations. Training must be approved by the Trades Union Congress or the union that the union representative represents).  
  • Undergoing training as appropriate to carry out union  duties.
  • Undertaking relevant duties if they are a union learning representative. This includes analysing training and development needs, providing advice about training and development matters, preparing for or arranging training and development events, promoting training and development, consulting with the University about training and development or undertaking their own training and development.

Payment and budgetary arrangements

The following allocations and budgeting arrangements are intended to enable TU union representatives to attend to their trade union work alongside their substantive job at the University.

Where significant changes in workload are anticipated any additional trade union time will be discussed and agreed at the time and subsequently noted/confirmed at JSC.

The annual, allocated, centrally-funded, paid time off work for key union representatives is a maximum of:

UCU - 1.5 FTE


This facilities time will not include Health and Safety Representatives.

A central budget will be established and will provide faculties and directorates employing active trade union representatives with funds equivalent to the salary costs equivalent to the time they are spending on trade union duties and funded trade union activities.  Any union official who has time brought out of their role to undertake Union Duties will return to their substantive role when they cease their union role or to a similar role if the substantive role is not available.

Faculties and Directorates will make local arrangements to provide adequate backfill and cover workload.

The budget will be reviewed annually and will be based on data provided to the Chief People Officer by the Trade Unions prior to each academic year (see reporting)

Where circumstances arise that are not adequately covered by the above provisions these should be raised with the Chief People Officer and Registrar and Chief Operating Officer.  Examples of this may include a pandemic, large-scale regrading, mass reorganisation that triggers an HR1 form, major projects that require extensive consultation between unions and the management. Unions should write to the Chief People Officer and Registrar and Chief Operating Officer explaining why they need extra hours and the Chief People Officer or Registrar and Chief Operating Officer will respond as soon as possible and normally within 5 days.

Managing Time for Union Duties

When arranging paid time off for union duties, union representatives should be as flexible as possible and give as much notice as possible to their line manager (ideally 2 week’s notice) - specifying the nature, reason and expected duration of the paid time off (including preparation time) - and ensure that they should minimise the impact on the operation of the University’s business. 

Having due regard to the needs of the University, line managers will not unreasonably refuse requests for paid time off - including when they are at short notice. 

The University will reciprocate in giving appropriate notice for meetings that union officials attend.

Other facilities

The University  will provide union representatives and branch employed staff and relevant regional officials with the following facilities to enable them to communicate with the union members, recruit new members and to foster a constructive and cooperative relationship between the University and the unions: 

  • Deduction at source for union subscriptions (acknowledging that some union members may prefer to pay their subscriptions directly to their union).
  • Electronic access to the joint JSC Google Drive which contains copies of University and Joint Staff Committee agendas and minutes. 
  • Use of the University’s internal mail distribution system.
  • Office accommodation for administrative purposes.
  • Access to meeting rooms for union meetings. 
  • Reasonable use of the University’s telephones and mobiles phones where appropriate, email and the internet.
  • Reasonable copying and printing - except for large quantities of union promotional materials which must be paid for by the relevant union.
  • Access to agreed notice boards including electronic notice boards for the purposes of communication between the unions and their members.
  • Periodically including an article in the University weekly newsletter.
  • Lockable filing cabinets for each union as well as reasonable electronic storage space. 
  • The University will give union representatives access to new recruits to the University during the Welcome to Brookes event to promote their services. The information provided will be: directorate/faculty, dept name, p number, name, initials, job title, employee status, staff group, location description, and start date.
  • The provision of IT equipment eg. laptop, data projector, microphone, where required for meetings.
  • Use of appropriate rooms for meetings, which are booked using the room bookings system.
  • Secure disposal of personal/sensitive information.


The trade unions will provide data as required by The Trade Union (Facilities Time Publication Requirements) Regulations 2017 to the Secretary of the Joint Staff Committee by 1 July each year.

The unions will advise the Chief People Officer of how the time allowance is planned to be divided between the key union officers for the coming academic year. 

Confidentiality and data protection

The University acknowledges the rights of the unions to communicate in private with their members.

In circumstances when Union representatives are given access to confidential University papers or information, they are expected to maintain that confidentiality. Confidential University papers or information provided to the union representatives who are members of the Joint Staff Committee can be discussed with other union representatives on the Joint Staff Committee. Similarly, if University papers or information are embargoed, it is expected that union members will maintain confidentiality until the embargo ends, the University will make it clear to the unions when something is considered embargoed or confidential.

When accessing and managing data, union representatives must adhere to the requirements of Data Protection and GDPR legislation and the University’s Information Security Policies, Procedures and Regulations. Retention of documents. 

Disputes regarding paid time off for union representatives

Every attempt will be made to resolve any issues relating to paid time off for union duties and facilities through open and constructive informal discussions. In the event that this fails, union officials should liaise with the Chief People Officer in the first instance. If the issue is not resolved, dispute resolution will be via the University’s Grievance Procedure and if that fails, through early conciliation by ACAS. 

Amendment or termination of the Agreement

All sides agree to review this agreement in 12 months and then every 2 years thereafter.

June 2023