Trade union facility time

The value of Facility Time

Facility Time generates benefits for employees, managers and the wider community from effective joint working between union representatives and employers.

Studies have shown that union workplaces tend to be safer, and that trade unions help to promote skills and training in workplace. The Scottish Government recognises this through our support for trade union learning and equality initiatives, including:

  • Scottish Union Learning
  • Close the Gap
  • Fair Work Convention
  • Partnership Working in the NHS
  • revised governance arrangements for Higher Education.

Main benefits

The NatCen study2 highlighted four main benefits from the use of facility time:

  • Provision of a ready-made structure for meaningful consultation and negotiation saves money and reassures members that their views are valued in decision-making.
  • Facilitation of partnership working with trade unions improves workplace relations and the reputation of an employer as ‘a good place to work’.
  • Earlier intervention in relation to complaints, grievances and disciplinary action prevents escalation into more serious problems and saves organisations (and taxpayers) money by reducing the impact on staff time and possible legal costs.
  • Better communication during restructuring and redundancy processes improves understanding of decisions, minimises negative impacts and reduces the number of working days lost through industrial action.

Fair Work Convention

The Fair Work Convention3 highlights these points through its ‘effective voice’ principle. As they state:

“It is clear from international evidence that employees and workers want a voice, not only to resolve problems and conflicts (which is important) but also to engage and participate constructively in organisations.”

Organisational change

On organisational change, they say:

“There are many examples in Scotland and elsewhere of how collective voice through trade unions working with employers has addressed a wide range of organisational challenges and contributed to organisational improvements.”

Data publication

It is the view of Midlothian Council that facility time data legally required by the Trade Union (Facility Time Publication Requirements) Regulations 2017, should be set in the context of the vast benefits that facility time bring to the workforce and to the employer, as set out above. This is supported by the Scottish Government, the STUC and our affiliated trade unions.

Facility Time reporting - 2019/20

Trade Union (TU) representative

  • The total number of employees who were TU representatives during the 2019/20 financial year: 14
  • FTE employee number: 5.6

Percentage of time spent on facility time

Percentage of working hours spent by TU representatives on facility time
Percentage of time Number of representatives
1% - 50% 11
51% - 99% 3
100% 0

Percentage of pay bill spent on facility time

  • Total cost of facility time: £202,686
  • Total pay bill: £145,913,000
  • Percentage of the total pay bill spent on facility time: 0.14%

Paid TU activities

Time spent on paid TU activities as a percentage of total paid facility time: 10,519 hours = 100%