Become a Workplace Representative

Become a Workplace Representative

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UNISON Workplace Representatives

UNISON is a democratic organisation which aims to put its members at the heart of everything it does. The workplace representative is UNISON's most important link between the union and its members. You don't need to have much experience or free time to be a representative. UNISON gives training and support and is happy that you do as much or as little as you feel able to.

There are four types of representative (click the headings for more information);

Workplace Contact

The workplace contact is an ideal role for members who would like to get more involved in UNISON but who do not want to take on the full role of elected steward. Workplace contacts can get involved in a variety of ways, including:

  • Being a point of contact between members and the Branch
  • Recruiting
  • Supporting members at work
  • Distributing information
  • Keeping notice boards up to date
  • Helping with Branch organisation

Workplace contacts can support existing stewards or Branch Officers, or can be established for groups of members who cannot find anyone willing to be a steward. Members who are interested in becoming stewards might want to take up this role first to get some experience before committing themselves further. You do not need to be elected to be a workplace contact, but the members you are supporting should find some way of agreeing on who the contact should be. Contact the branch for further details:


UNISON aims to have at least one steward in each workplace and department, more in larger departments and where members work shifts.

As a steward your involvement and activity will vary depending on your experience, skills and the time you are able to commit. Your work may range from being a local contact in the workplace to a high level negotiator, but generally you will get involved in some, or all of the following:

  • Talking to members, distributing information and getting their views
  • Recruiting and organising
  • Helping members get advice on workplace problems
  • Being a spokesperson or representative for your workgroup

Being an elected steward gives you access to important rights and support, including:

  • Recognition as a UNISON representative
  • Training by UNISON and the TUC
  • Paid time off for training, meetings with members and managers, and some other union work
  • Access to UNISON advice and information
  • Mentoring and support from Branch and regional officers
  • Use of employers’ telephones, e-mail and internal mail by agreement

A steward is elected by the members they represent either at a meeting or by postal ballot. Elections are held annually, before the Branch Annual General Meeting which takes place between January and March, or during the year at the Branch Committee which meets monthly.

Union Learning Representative

Learning Representatives work closely with the Branch education or Lifelong Learning Co-ordinator to promote learning in the Branch.

Learning reps may have had experience of adult learning such as Return to Learn (R2L), or they can be existing workplace representatives who want to develop learning in the workplaces they cover.

Some of the tasks learning representatives will be involved in include:

  • Raising awareness of lifelong learning issues in the workplace
  • Offering support and encouragement to learners
  • Encouraging learners to get involved in the Branch
  • Working with the Branch to promote workplace learning with employers

Union Learning Representatives are entitled to paid time off to undertake their role and for training, are encouraged to attend training courses, and have access to support from the Branch and region.

You do not need to be elected to hold this post, but you need to be ratified by your Branch Committee on an annual basis. UNISON is encouraging Learning Representatives to work together with the elected Branch Education or Lifelong Learning Co-ordinator.

Health and Safety Representative

We aim to have at least one health and safety representative to cover every workplace where we have members. As a health and safety representative you have a wide range of rights and functions, including

Making representations, on behalf of members, on health, safety or welfare matters
Inspecting designated workplace areas
Investigating potential hazards, complaints by members and causes of accidents, dangerous occurrences and diseases
Facilities and support in your role as safety representative from your employer
Time off with pay and for training

If you are interested in any of these roles please download and complete the nomination form available below. Alternatively contact the Branch Office for further information.

Download Nomination Form          Contact the Branch Office

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Investors in People
UNISON Office, A3 County Hall, Taunton, Somerset TA1 4DY. 01823 355568