Different types of rep

Not all reps have a recognised job description. Some can simply be described as local representatives: the face of the union in a particular workplace or location. But others have very specific responsibilities, usually defined in the branch rules.

Local representatives

Well-organised branches usually develop a network of local representatives to undertake a range of tasks, depending on the type of branch or workplace. These include:

  • acting as a focal point for Prospect in their area
  • eliciting and conveying members’ views to the branch or section
  • maintaining the local noticeboard
  • distributing Prospect information
  • ensuring non-members are approached to join, keeping a record of approaches made and, if unsuccessful, the reason
  • ensuring changes in members’ details and location are passed to the branch or section.

Reps with particular skills or interests may be willing to take on specific tasks such as maintaining the content of an eBranch. Local reps may be known by various titles – site secretary, correspondence rep, or just ‘Prospect rep’. In the energy supply industry sector, many are known as technical reps or TRs.

Point of contact

This is not a representative role. It is a Prospect member who wants, and is able, to give a little of their time to support their branch. No training is required and there is no expectation to carry out other duties. The point of contact can help the branch extend its reach by having local contacts across its workplaces.

Branch officers

In the paragraphs that follow, for ‘branch’ you can read ‘section’ or ‘sub-section’ as appropriate.

President/chair

The president (or chair, or convenor in some Scottish branches) presides at all branch conferences or committee meetings and is responsible for:

  • the proper conduct of the meeting
  • ensuring that business is kept moving
  • clarifying the issues under discussion
  • ensuring that clear decisions are reached and recorded.

In most branches, the president is an experienced rep with a wider representational role in negotiations or consultation.

Union learning rep

Union learning reps have specific legal rights and powers (see Prospect’s ULR factcard). Branches appoint union learning representatives whose duties are to:

  • promote training and development in the workplace by providing advice and information on learning initiatives
  • support members who want to review and broaden their portfolio of skills
  • help to identify sources of training or learning provision
  • act as a confidential sounding board for individuals on development issues
  • work in partnership with the employer to meet the skills and learning needs of individuals and the organisation
  • give feedback on members’ views and experiences of learning at work to the branch and the employer
  • raise the profile of training and development on the bargaining agenda.

Other specialist reps

Branches often appoint reps to deal with specific issues.

Casehandler

These are reps who support and advise members with personal cases from across the sector, not just within their own branch.

See more information about casehandlers.

Equality rep

These reps play a crucial role, pressing employers to create fairer workplaces for all. Their duties can include: raising awareness within the workplace of the work the union and the branch do around equality and working with branch officers to analyse information about the employer’s equality performance such as audit agreements, equal pay surveys etc. Prospect provides training on issues such as discrimination law, equal pay audits, neurodiversity and unconscious bias.

Pension rep

These reps act as a point of contact for members’ pension queries. Pensions is a detailed and technical area so their role is often to direct members to the appropriate workplace or union contact if they cannot answer the query themselves. They also work to raise the profile of pension issues in their branch.

Environmental rep

These reps act as a conduit between management and members. Their aim is to raise awareness and participate in initiatives to minimise consumption, optimise resources, source materials sustainably and dispose of waste responsibly. They also participate in formal and informal organisational structures.