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Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: Pay

Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN 3813, tabled on 15 January 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether her Department complies with the requirement set out in section 3.1.8 of the Civil Service Management Code that time off with pay for safety representatives will not be set against facility time allowed under existing arrangements.

Answered on

21 January 2020

Defra, as with other Government Departments, has an obligation to provide reasonable paid time off to recognised trade union representatives to undertake trade union duties. This includes paid time off for safety representatives as set out in section 3.1.8 of the Civil Service Management Code.

Defra Health and Safety representatives can use their paid facility time for the following TU duties (this list is not exhaustive):

  • Representing employees in consultation and discussions with the employer on health, safety or welfare,
  • Investigating accidents, near misses and other potential hazards and dangerous occurrences in the workplace
  • Investigating a complaint made by an employee they represent about their health, safety or welfare in the workplace
  • Undertaking training relevant to the role of H&S representative, beyond “Stage One”

Defra makes the following provisions to enable Health and Safety Representatives to discharge their duties effectively, without using facility time.

  • Undertaking “Stage One” Health and Safety training, as this course is recognised as providing good basic standard training and the department wants to ensure those carrying out Health and Safety functions are properly qualified
  • Carrying out inspections where they form part of an agreed joint program
  • Attending Joint Health and Safety Committee meetings

In line with the legislative obligation, set out in the Trade Union Act (2016), information relating to facility time in Defra for relevant union officials is published annually, with facility time defined by that Act as including time off taken by a relevant union official that is permitted by the official’s employer, including where this arises under “Regulations made under Section 2(4) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974”.

The Government recognises 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.