Learning Agreement

PCS MoJ Group and management have now signed off the long awaited Learning Agreement.

This has been the result of over 18 months negotiations and gives clear guidance on the ULR role, how the role compliments existing learning provisions within MoJ, dispute resolution, and a joint commitment to the learning and skills agenda within MoJ.

The department has some challenging targets in terms of the Leitch Pledge on skills and ULRs can assist members in benefiting from these.

As part of this commitment a Learning Steering group has been formed which gives us an opportunity to identify and discuss specific learning issues formally.

The Learning Agreement promotes joint working at every level but the Group will still set its own learning in priorities to ensure the needs of the members are addressed an further embedded the learning agenda into organising and campaigning priorities.

Our members are working in uncertain times regarding job security and changes in working practices. Many will be thinking of updating existing skills or learning new ones.

ULRs will play a vital role in supporting members by offering confidential, impartial support and guidance.

This agreement will ensure that ULRs can access reasonable paid time off and have access to facilities which will empower them to become more proactive in the workplace and better represent the needs of members.

MoJ Learning Agreement

1. MoJ learning agenda

2. Justice academy, line manager and ULR responsiblities

3. ULR priorities in supporting the learning agenda

4. The joint learning steering committee

Appendix 1: Access to learning for employees

Appendix 2: Scope of the agreement

Appendix 3: Facility time for Union Learning Reps (ULRs)

The Ministry of Justice and the recognised Trade Unions are committed to developing an effective working relationship in order to promote and support learning and to ensure fair and equal access to learning opportunities. We will work together to help identify and address any barriers including the provision of accessible learning materials and flexible methods of delivery, where appropriate. We will encourage staff to participate in learning activities which supports business and personal development needs.

1. The MoJ Learning Agenda

The Ministry of Justice is committed to developing and building skills and ensuring people get the learning and development they need to deliver the MoJ business objectives now and in the future. We will achieve this through the promotion of the MoJ Learning Agenda.

Recognising the importance of learning is key to supporting staff and the Ministry’s People Proposition Framework. The five core themes (Leadership, Engagement, Performance, Capability and Connectivity) support the development of an MoJ culture so that in our work:

  • Every one of us takes responsibility for developing ourselves and supporting people to develop their skills;
  • We work to develop a Ministry in which all of us are engaged, understand our role and contribute to the delivery of the Ministry’s objectives.

2. Justice Academy, Line Manager and ULR Responsibilities

The Ministry has in place well-established learning and development programmes for it’s employees through the JusticeAcademy which is responsible for providing learning and development in support of its business objectives.

The need and support for such learning and development is identified normally through conversation between the Line Manager and the individual as part of the performance management process,

The ULRs work will complement the role of the JusticeAcademy by their support for the MoJ Learning Agenda (as outlined below). They can make an important contribution to the MoJ by increasing employee engagement in learning and promoting the learning culture we are seeking to build across the organisation.

3. ULR Priorities in supporting The Learning Agenda

The priority roles of the ULR in supporting the Learning Agenda in the MoJ will be defined and agreed by the Joint Steering Committee (see below). The current priorities for ULR’s in supporting the MoJ Learning Agenda are:

Supporting the Skills Pledge in its two phases

  • Phase 1 - to focus on those who want to take up the option of qualifications by 2011
  • Phase 2 - to then work to deliver the target of 95% of all staff by 2011
  • Assisting in identifying those without qualifications
  • Promoting opportunities and enabling employees without qualifications to access programmes

Supporting the Skills for Life Agenda through:

  • Promoting basic literacy and numeracy skills and providing support for those who need to build these skills
  • Assisting in identifying those without qualifications

These identified priorities will be the main focus of ULR activities however ULRs may undertake in agreement with their line manager other learning activities within their remit defined in annex A in addition to the priority

The Ministry will ensure that line managers are aware of their responsibilities, the role of the JusticeAcademy and the role of the ULR.

4. Joint Learning Steering Committee

A National Joint Learning Steering Committee will be formed. This committee will meet regularly to set the priorities and review progress of ULR work.

Membership will include the Head of Operations and Policy in the JusticeAcademy the three Senior Learning Representatives from the JusticeAcademy and three Senior Learning Representatives from the Trade Unions.

The three Joint Learning Steering Committee TUS representatives will have overall responsibility for the ULR network.

The Committee will ensure compliance with, and assess the success of, this agreement. It will:

  • Ensure that ULR actions are complementary, co-ordinated and that work is not duplicated

Review the ULR role in:

  • the delivery of the skills pledge commitment
  • the take up of ULR learning opportunities
  • evidence of how well the ULRs are working together with the JusticeAcademy to deliver the outputs identified by the Joint Learning Steering Committee.
  • developing local working relationships with managers

Consult on:

  • the total number of ULRs appointed
  • the structure and coverage of ULR’s
  • outcomes resulting from the work of ULR’s
  • expressions of satisfaction or otherwise by service users and managers of ULR services
  • the efficiency with which the ULR network and ULR activities are run


Commitment to Learning for now and in the future

The Ministry and the Trade Unions agree to encourage and support staff to participate in learning related to the business and personal development.

The MoJ will ensure that staff who are not direct employees of MoJ but deliver a service on our behalf are also covered by the department’s commitment to learning for now and in the future. MoJ will ensure that present and future contactors are committed to providing a high quality service by ensuring their staff have the same learning opportunities as those members of staff directly employed by the department.

Allocated time and other support for job related training

Staff should in the first instance consult their line manager where possible and access training through the JusticeAcademy in the normal way

The Ministry of Justice will allocate time and other support for agreed business-related training. ULR’s may also, where necessary, help staff in identifying such learning needs (as defined above).

Allocated time for employees to have access to Union Learning Representatives

The JusticeAcademy provides a learning needs analysis service for the MoJ.

It is recognised however that there may be exceptional circumstances in which an individual might be unwilling to disclose a particular learning need.

In such circumstances, reasonable time during working hours will be allowed to meet with a ULR for this purpose. This may include time for undertaking a ‘learning needs analysis’ (where a ULR is trained and qualified to do so and the analysis cannot be provided by the JusticeAcademy), as well as subsequent meetings for information and advice on learning.

Whilst discussions between ULR’s and individuals are confidential, employees will be encouraged to share the findings of the learning needs analysis with their line managers to further their personal development by fulfilling identified learning needs as part of the performance management process.

This is in addition to any time with pay granted to staff to undergo learning and development opportunities, provided it has been agreed in advance with their Line Manager.

Additional ULR events to promote learning for which reasonable time might be allocated to employees to attend include:

  • Learning at Work Day events and taster learning sessions
  • Events to promote and seek engagement with employees on a 1:1 basis with MoJ Learning Agenda aims and objectives and other learning opportunities

MoJ and the unions will encourage all employees to fully participate in learning initiatives and opportunities. When planning events the needs of both the business and individual needs will be taken into account.




This agreement covers all the Ministry of Justice staff excluding NOMS.

Review/Changes to the agreement

The effectiveness of this agreement and the associated arrangement for ULR’s will be evaluated after the first 12 months of operation to ensure that it is working efficiently and to identify any areas for improvement. The review will be a joint Ministry/DTUS exercise. Thereafter, any changes to this agreement will be made through the normal consultative process. To support the evaluation, the effectiveness of the agreement will be listed as a formal item on the Joint Learning Steering Committee’s agenda every quarter.

Accreditation of ULRs

The TUS will provide the Employee Relations Team and the Joint Learning Steering Committee with a full list of ULRs within 1 month of this agreement and thereafter ensure that:

  • formal notification of the appointment of new ULRs is provided
  • time sheets are filed showing the amount of time spent on ULR duties (in compliance with the process agreed in the MoJ National Facilities Agreement)
  • the overall list of ULRs is kept up to date to reflect new ULRs and those who resign.


Allocated time with pay for Union Learning Representatives

Training for Union Learning Representatives

Further to the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act 1992, only an accredited elected representative can be a Union Learning Representative (ULR). To qualify for reasonable paid time off to undertake their functions, ULRs must be sufficiently trained to carry out duties:

  • either at the time when the TUS gives notice in writing that they are a learning representative
  • or within six months of that date. In this case, the notice must state that they will be undergoing such training and written notice must be provided when this has been completed. The notice must confirm that the training undertaken is sufficient to allow the ULR to undertake their role and relevant details should be given. The six month period may be extended, with agreement, to take into account any significant unforeseen circumstances.

In addition, ULRs are entitled to reasonable paid time to undertake any training necessary to enable them to carry out their functions.

What is ‘reasonable’?

Time should be prioritised and resource focused on the priority areas of work in support of the MoJ Learning Agenda and Learning now and in the future as identified by the Joint Learning Steering Committee and to meet appropriate needs as agreed with local managers.

Training for ULR’s

The Trade Union officials outlined above will ensure that ULRs are sufficiently trained to qualify for time in line with the requirements of the Employment Act 2002 and ACAS Code of Practice and reflecting the level of the role of the ULR.

  • The five day TUC Learning Representatives course, or the equivalent accredited courses delivered by the various CCSU unions will be regarded as the appropriate initial training.
  • Specialist courses will then be necessary if a ULR is involved in advising staff on adult basic skills.

In order to apply for time to undertake their ULR duties, the ULR must ensure that the Union has given the MoJ notice in writing that they are a ULR, and that the above training condition has been met.

Any such reasonable time granted is additional to facility time with pay for other union duties or other union positions held.

Managing allocated time for Union Learning Representatives and staff accessing their services

Time taken by ULR’s and staff wishing to access ULR services will be classified as official time (not Facility Time) provided ULRs, or staff wishing to access ULR services, seek permission to take time through their Line Manager in the appropriate, manner giving as much notice as possible. All requests for time for ULRs should be recorded on the Trade Union Time Record giving details of:

  • the purpose of such time
  • the intended location
  • the timing and duration of the intended training

Managers should work together with the ULR and, wherever possible, accommodate reasonable requests for time for ULR’s to be trained to carry out their duties.

In deciding whether to grant requests for time, consideration should be given to each application on its own merits, having regard to all the circumstances, the level of the ULR, the reasonableness of the request and the need to ensure business continuity.

The completed Trade Union Time Record for the previous month must be forwarded on to the line manager by the 5th working day of each month.

The line manager must return the Trade Union Time Record to the corporate Employee Relations Team by the 10th working day of each month.

Other facilities

The Ministry will provide ULR’s with the necessary accommodation and equipment/facilities to perform their duties. This will include reasonable:

  • Access to a telephone, desk and PC;
  • Access to internal and external email and the Ministry’s intranet and internet;
  • Secure filing facilities;
  • Use of the Trade Unions notice boards;
  • Access to a private room for discussions with staff.


The TUS and MoJ will encourage employees to resolve disagreements about the implementation of this agreement informally and at the lowest practicable level. Where an issue cannot be resolved the matter will be referred to the National Steering Group for interpretation and dissemination of advice and guidance. Where lack of agreement still exists there remains the right to follow the department’s grievance procedure. If necessary, a complaint can be taken to an Employment Tribunal.

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