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Facility Time Guidance

Volume 660: debated on Monday 20 May 2019

I wish to update the House on the progress being made to monitor trade union facility time usage within the public sector.

The Trade Union (Facility Time Publication Requirements) Regulations 2017 came into force on 1 April 2017, requiring public sector organisations who employ over 49 full-time equivalent employees to publish information relating to trade union usage/spend.

The Government are today publishing updated guidance to support organisations to meet this important legislative requirement. On 3 June we will launch a new online recording system as part of the facility time publication service, enabling all public sector organisations to centrally submit facility time data by the deadline of 31 July. All organisations should report facility time data before this date, and guidance to this effect is included in the tool.

The Government recognise that there are significant benefits to both employers and employees when organisations and unions work together effectively to deliver high- quality public services, but facility time within the public sector must be accountable and represent value for money.

For 2017-18, compliance varied considerably across the wider public sector, with returns in some areas of just over 60%. The civil service saw the highest levels of compliance, with just over 99% of expected returns received.

Returns to the civil service show a 0.06% spend on facility time as a percentage of the pay bill, demonstrating greater accountability and an effective use of taxpayers’ money. Measures taken to encourage these sensible savings include reforms that require trade union representatives to spend at least 50% of their time delivering their civil service job. Average spend across the public sector was higher, especially in local government.

The Government encourage all public sector organisations to reduce facility time spend to the levels seen in the civil service, in order to ensure it achieves value for money. The Government estimate these potential savings amount to £14 million across the public sector.