Specialist Rep Roles

For a greater understanding of what each representative role does and who they represent

Within PCS union there are a number of distinct roles that can take place at the workplace level:

  • Workplace representative (i.e. union ‘rep’ or ‘shop steward’)
  • Health and safety representative
  • Union learning representative
  • Equality representative.

All PCS representatives within a particular workplace should make sure that they are communicating regularly with each other to ensure that there is a consistent approach with the membership and management.

A description of the roles and responsibilities are listed below, these descriptions are not prescriptive or exhaustive and representatives may be asked to take responsibility for additional activities as a result of branch, group or national campaigns. We expect all workplace representatives to take an active role in recruitment and organising.

Workplace representative

The workplace rep has a variety of responsibilities in relation to organising, bargaining and campaigning within the workplace:

  • Recruit non members to the union
  • Contribute local knowledge to the organising map of the workplace
  • Undertake any relevant training
  • Identify who and where the members are in your workplace
  • Encourage members to become more active and consider becoming PCS advocates
  • Ensure regular communication takes place between all the PCS workplace representatives in your workplace
  • Ensure the notice boards are updated and have current information
  • Ensure that communications from your branch, group and the national union are distributed to the membership.
  • Organise members meetings within your workplace on key issues
  • Consult with members in your workplace as and when required
  • Individual representation for personal cases
  • Provide information to your branch or group committee as and when required
  • Collective representation and negotiation for local workplace issues (ensuring that branch positions reflect branch, group and national policy).

Health and safety representative

All health and safety representatives must have received training on Health, Safety and Welfare legislation and regulations, and be able to challenge the organisation where there are health and safety issues for staff at the workplace.

  • Undertake any relevant training
  • Identify who and where the members are in your workplace
  • Speak to members within the workplace to identify health and safety issues, find solutions and resolve any problems
  • Investigate the causes of injuries or near misses within your workplace
  • Investigate potential hazards and dangerous occurrences
  • Accompany the employer side on workplace inspections and agree the results and outcomes
  • Accompany the employer side when carrying out local risk assessments and agree results and mitigation.
  • Collective representation for local workplace health and safety issues (ensuring that branch positions reflect branch, group and national policy).
  • Employer consultation on local workplace health and safety
  • To work with and provide information to your PCS branch health and safety officer as required. 

Union learning representative

Their role in the workplace is to provide support to members with their individual learning needs in work and outside of work, and signpost them to learning opportunities:

  • Organise and run learning activities and events in your workplace – working with management as required
  • Identify and support apprentices in your workplace – and recruit them as PCS members
  • ULRs come into contact with many non-members – use your role to recruit new members to PCS
  • Assess the skills, learning and training needs of your colleagues
  • Provide information, advice and guidance to your colleagues on how they can access free and low-cost learning opportunities
  • Give support to your colleagues and help them to overcome any barriers to learning
  • Promote the value of learning and training in your workplace
  • Work with your branch learning coordinator (BLC) and branch officers to integrate learning into the branch’s organising and bargaining priorities
  • Undertake relevant training for your role
  • Identify who and where the members are in your workplace
  • Build links with other union learning reps in your department/group, and across your region
  • Attend regional ULR forums
  • Complete and submit monthly learner reporting forms to your regional learning organiser
  • Collect the equality and diversity data of individual learners in compliance with GDPR

Equality representative

Equality representatives within the workplace can be concerned with a wide range of diversity issues; the promotion of diversity management, raising awareness of issues related to equality and diversity; raising the profile of equal treatment of workers on the grounds of gender, age, religion or belief, sexual orientation, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race; and engaging employers on a range of equality issues.

  • Undertake any relevant training
  • Identify who and where the members are in your workplace
  • Encourage members to become involved in the appropriate PCS equality network
  • Speak to members within the workplace to identify equality issues, find solutions and resolve any problems
  • Work with the branch equality representative as and when required
  • Provide information to your branch or group committee as and when required
  • Organise events in your workplace for LGBT History Month, Women’s History Month, Black History Month,  Disability History Month etc. to raise awareness of related issues
  • Consult with the employer on carrying out any equality events and activities within the workplace.

Workplace reps, health and safety reps and ULRs should all keep in touch with their respective branch officers on a regular basis so that union work in the workplace is supporting, and supported, by the branch’s overall strategies.

All workplaces of significant size should aim to have representation on the branch’s executive committee.

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