Working with Trade Unions and Employee Representatives
During the creation of a free school, or the conversion from local authority school to academy, school leaders have to consult with all interested parties. This may include consultation with employees, who may be represented by their trade union or by specifically elected employee representatives. It is important to build effective working relationships with trade union/employee representatives based on good communication from the start as these will be long term relationships that can have an important influence on an organisation.
If the relationship works it can save an employer time, as they do not have to consult employees individually, and a respected trade union/employee representative can help to identify issues and prevent them from becoming problems by helping an organisation to address them satisfactorily. If the relationship does not work it can hold up decision making and prevent an organisation from developing in the way that it needs to.
Local authorities negotiate and consult with trade unions/employee representatives on behalf of their schools. They have recognition and collective agreements in place which normally set out such things as the scope of collective bargaining, what time off the union/employee reps are entitled to for trade union duties, and how disputes will be settled. However, as a free school/academy the responsibility for deciding union recognition and to consult with its employees lies with the governing body. Trades unions have certain rights to recognition based on membership levels and any organisation reviewing their arrangements should familiarise themselves with those rights - see GOV.UK - Your rights at work and trade unions for further information on trade union recognition rights.
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We can visit your organisation to help you understand what needs to be done to address a range of issues related to representation and help you and your employee representatives with developing negotiation skills.