Become a rep

Why become a rep?

Members join because they want the union to protect and improve their pay and conditions in their working lives. This is unlikely to happen without an organised approach for which we need reps.

Anyone can become a rep. If you’re already doing a job that involves strong organisational skills then this can help, but the most important thing is that you’re familiar with the workplace landscape at your work.

An active local rep can make a real difference by helping to:

  • improve pay and conditions
  • protect people’s rights at work
  • encourage fairness in the workplace
  • promote a healthy and safe work environment
  • help people gain access to training and career development
  • recruit and inform new members

“Prospect helped me when I had a work-related problem. I thought maybe I could do the same for somebody else.” Prospect rep

What skills will you need?

All reps should have a basic understanding of the services Prospect provides to members. Beyond that, the skills you need will depend on your role.

You can either use your existing abilities (for example if you’ve got good organisational skills you could be an ideal branch organiser), or develop new ones through our training courses.

“It was a chance to develop new skills that would be useful to me in the wider workplace and for career development.”

There are no qualifications required. However, we would expect that all reps undertake Prospect training to develop skills and confidence.

Many reps find they develop greater confidence and expertise if they do specialist training on areas where they are required to be active (eg pay, pensions, personal cases).

How to become a rep

To be recognised as a union rep you need to be elected or appointed at a membership meeting. The exact procedure should be set out in your branch or section rules.

If you’re not sure, speak to someone who is already involved or contact Prospect‘s Member Contact Centre or your dedicated organiser. Your branch then needs to notify your employer.

It is not for employers to pick and choose who the representatives are (although some try)!

If you have a collective bargaining agreement between Prospect and your employer this will describe the arrangements for workplace reps, including the constituencies they represent and whether time off for performing trade union duties is permitted.

How much of your time will it take?

There is no set amount of time – it will depend on whether you are entitled to carry out union duties during work time (often called facility time), and how much of your free time you are prepared to commit.

“I seized the chance to be an active part of the workplace community; I like knowing what’s going on!”

It will also be influenced by your level of involvement in trade union activities.

Can I be disciplined or otherwise disadvantaged by being a rep?

Provided you act professionally and are not in breach of the relevant disciplinary code/employee rules, you cannot be disciplined merely for trade union activity. Legislation is in place to protect trade union representatives from victimisation.

“I wanted my employer to introduce a decent workplace environmental policy; the best way to achieve this was through the union.”

Many reps find that the experience they develop as a rep enhances their negotiating skills and this in turn has a positive impact on their own professional/personal development.