The Trade Union (Facility Time Publication Requirements) Regulations 2017 came into force on 1 April 2017, following the enactment of the Trade Union Act 2016. The aim of these regulations is to provide transparency in monitoring and scrutinising facility time data. It is estimated that greater accountability will lead to savings of up to £100 million. On 2 June 2018, the government published guidance on these regulations and the requirement for public sector employers to publish information on facility time, annually.
Facility time is a statutory entitlement to reasonable paid time off work to undertake union duties. The new guidance recommends having an agreement setting out the length of time off that can be provided, whilst also allowing for the fact that the requirements for time off may fluctuate.
The guidance expands on the scope of the regulations, listing the public authorities which are included. These are also listed in Schedule 1 of the regulations and include; the NHS, police staff, schools, educational institutions, Scottish ministers and any department of the UK Government. The regulations are only applicable to public authorities who have at least one trade union representative and more than 49 full time equivalent employees during any seven months of a 12 month relevant period.
Which data needs to be published?
- The number of employees who were relevant union officials during the relevant period
- How many employees who were relevant union officials during the relevant period, spent a) 0% b) 1-50% c) 51-99% or d) 100% of their working hours on facility time
- Percentage of the total pay bill spent on facility time
- Time spent on paid trade union activities as a percentage of total paid facility time hours.
When and how should this data be published?
The guidance states that the data should be published before 31st July each year, on a website maintained by the employer, or on its behalf, alongside publishing on a government website. The government website will go live from 1st July 2018 and the first publication for 1 April 2017 – 31 March 2018 must be published by 31 July 2018.
How should employers implement this?
The guidance recommends employers collect the data frequently and structures are put in place to enable it to do so. Employers will need to record when employees become or cease to be a trade union representative. Employers will also need to keep on record;
- the amount of hours worked by trade union representatives; and
- the amount of hours they spend on trade union duties; and
- the amount of time spent on trade union activities, including paid activities.
Collecting this information and recording it will facilitate employers in meeting the annual publication requirements.