Trade union membership rights

Time-off rights for union officials and members


Trade union officials and members have rights to time off under certain circumstances. The time off may or may not be paid.

The right to paid time off for union duties

You must give an employee who is an official of a recognised union reasonable paid time off:

  • to carry out their union duties
  • for training related to union duties

A trade union official's typical duties may include:

  • recruiting, organising and representing members of a trade union, either individually or collectively
  • attending meetings with members of the workforce and management
  • accompanying workers to disciplinary and grievance hearings
  • negotiating with the employer on terms and conditions of employment or matters of discipline

The right to time off for union activities

You must give union officials and members reasonable unpaid time off for carrying out union activities.

Such activities might include:

  • voting in union elections
  • meeting full-time officials to discuss issues relevant to the workplace
  • attending workplace meetings to discuss and vote on the outcome of negotiations

Right of complaint to an Industrial Tribunal

Individuals who think that any of these rights have been infringed can complain to an industrial tribunal.

If the tribunal finds the complaint well founded, it will make a declaration to that effect and award compensation as it sees fit.

In cases where the employer has failed to pay the employee for the time off, it will order the employer to pay the amount due.