Working with non-union representatives

Ongoing consultation on health and safety matters


If you recognise an independent trade union for collective bargaining purposes, it is entitled to appoint union safety representatives at the workplace.

Read Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) guidance on trade union representation relating to safety matters.

However, if you have employees who are not represented by trade union safety representatives, you must consult the employees directly and in good time about health and safety issues.

Alternatively, you must consult any employee representatives - called representatives of employee safety (ROES) - who are elected for this purpose.

Download the HSENI guide to consulting employees on health and safety (PDF, 137K).

Employment-protection rights for ROES

A ROES has the right:

  • not to be subject to a detriment or to be dismissed because of their activities (or proposed activities) as a ROES - any dismissal in these circumstances is automatically unfair
  • to a reasonable amount of paid time off during working hours to perform their functions or undergo any training - this right also applies to a candidate standing for election as a ROES
  • to receive the necessary training as is reasonable under the circumstances - you must pay any reasonable costs for such training, including travel and subsistence costs

You must also provide a ROES with the facilities and assistance they may reasonably require for carrying out their duties.

What facilities and assistance are appropriate will vary according to the circumstances. Communication systems vary from workplace to workplace, and it might be appropriate for you to provide the representative with workspace, access to telephone, the internet, email etc in order to carry out their duties.

Tribunal claims for a ROES if their rights are infringed

A ROES (or candidate in an election to become such a representative) who is dismissed or subjected to a detriment as a result of their activities may lodge a complaint with the Industrial Tribunal.

If the tribunal/arbitrator finds that you:

  • dismissed the employee unfairly, an order of reinstatement or re-engagement may be made or alternatively, an award of compensation
  • subjected the employee to a detriment, an order to award compensation may be made 

A ROES (or candidate in an election to become such a representative) may also lodge a complaint with the Industrial Tribunal if you infringed their right to reasonable paid time off.

If the tribunal/arbitrator finds that you:

  • unreasonably refused a ROES or candidate paid time off, a declaration to that effect will be made and the individual will be awarded an amount equal to the pay they would have been entitled to if you hadn't refused them that time off
  • failed to pay a ROES or candidate the appropriate amount for paid time off, an order to pay the amount due shall be made

A tribunal/arbitrator will not normally consider any such claim unless it is made within three months of the date when the alleged infringement occurred.

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