Major legislation was passed in 2002 giving learning reps a statutory right to time off to undertake training and to carry out their duties.
The Employment Act 2002
The Employment Act, which gives learning reps statutory rights to time off to undertake training and to carry out their duties, was passed in July 2002.
The main provisions of the Act relating to learning reps and to learning are:
- learning reps will be entitled to reasonable paid time off to do their training and to carry out their duties
- members will be allowed unpaid time off to consult their learning reps (how this will be monitored is not specified)
- learning reps will usually only act on behalf of members, but where public money is involved (eg learndirect 'access points'), or where we want to get everyone in a workplace involved, they will work with non members where appropriate.
ACAS Code of Practice
Following the legislation, ACAS consulted on a draft code of practice which would provide practical guidance on the Employment Act.
In January 2003 ACAS published a revised Code of Practice on Time Off for Trade Union Duties and Activities.
This took effect when the Employment Act 2002 comes into force in April. The relevant paragraphs relating to learning reps are as follows:
" Para 13. Employees who are members of an independent trade union recognised by the employer can take reasonable time off to undertake the duties of a Union Learning Representative, provided that the union has given the employer notice in writing that the employee is a learning representative of the trade union and the training condition is met.
"The functions for which time off as a Union Learning Representative is allowed are:
- analysing learning or training needs
- providing information and advice about learning or training matters
- arranging learning or training
- promoting the value of learning or training
- consulting the employer about carrying on any such activities
- preparation to carry out any of the above activities
- undergoing relevant training
In practice, the roles and responsibilities of Union Learning Representatives will often vary by union and by workplace but will include one or more of these functions.
Para 14. Many employers have in place well established training and development programmes for their employees. Union Learning Representatives should liaise with their employers to ensure that their respective training activities complement one another and that the scope for duplication is minimised."
The full PDF version of the code of practice is available on the ACAS website.