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As a CSP steward or safety rep you have a legal right to time off from work to carry out your role and to attend training. CSP members can download the quick guide and resource sheets highlighted below.
The amount of time you need will vary between employers and is subject to the issues which arise and the number of members and representatives in the workplace.
Having the right 'tools for the job' or facilities as well as time off is important.
These should include:
- access to a suitable room
- use of email, telephone and fax both internally and externally
- a lockable filing cabinet or secure place to keep correspondance
- a computer linked to the internet, a printer and the facility to photocopy
- a regular list of new starters at work
For more detailed information please consult Resource sheet 1: What is time off and facilities?
The right to time off is laid down by the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 (TULRA). You are legally entitled to reasonable paid time off for training relevant to your trade union duties. This includes Stewards'/Safety Rep inductions, regional training days and any other courses run by ERUS.
To learn more, please read Resource sheet 2: Time off and facilities and the law.
Most employers who recognise trade unions will have a Time Off and Facilities Agreement. This should be available on the staff intranet, staff handbook or from your HR department.
Agreements within the NHS should provide reps with at least the minimum outlined in the NHS Terms and Conditions Handbook (section 25). The latest version can be accessed via a link on the National Stewards iCSP network.
Resource sheet 3: Time off and facilities agreements offers further guidance.
Recently organisations such as the Tax Payers Alliance and the Sunday Telegraph have submitted FOI to public bodies asking about their provision of union time. Union representatives have a legal right to be consulted if an employer receives a FOI request of this nature. There are a number of measures that local stewards can take to ensure that the information released is accurate and not misleading.
These are detailed further in Resource sheet 4: FOI requests.
Reps often report feeling guilty, stressed and uncomfortable about taking time off for CSP duties. It is important to remember however, that your employer, as well as your members, gain a huge amount from having a strong effective CSP presence in the workplace.
A TUC briefing from October 2009 identified a number of benefits including:
- 3,000-25,000 fewer dismissals each year worth £107m-£213m
- 3600-7300 fewer Employment Tribunals each year worth £22m-£43m
- 3000-8000 fewer cases of work related illnesses equivalent to a saving of £45m-£207m
These points and others, with relevant links, are outlined in Resource sheet 5 – Benefits to your employer.
There are a number of measures you can take to make sure that you are getting the most out of your time off.
Remember to get active CSP members involved in your role as steward or safety rep. You can ask them to assist you with small tasks such as:
- Updating a staff noticeboard
- Speaking to new members of staff about the CSP
- Raising an issue with CSP team members and getting feedback
Additional ideas as well as practical steps you can take to get managers and members “on board” are outlined in Resource sheet 6 – Getting the most out of time off and facilities.
Download a copy of the Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977, (aka 'The Brown Book'), from the TUC website.