What is a representative?
We recognise that our trade union representatives play an important role in the work and activities of the RCN. Trade union representatives are members of the RCN who are elected by members and ratified by their local branch to represent members of the RCN. They can be registered nurses or health care assistants.
All accredited representatives undertake a learning and development programme based on the RCN’s role descriptors for trade union representatives in the workplace mapped against the National Occupational Standards for Trade Union Officers and Representatives (ENTO standards). This enables them to develop their competency and confidence in acquiring the knowledge and skills to effectively support our members and represent the RCN.
There are three types of trade union representative:
Support and represent members in the workplace. Their role is to promote workplace employment rights and ensure that members are treated fairly. More infomation about stewards
Represent the health and safety interests of members at work and work with employers to ensure a safe and healthy working environment for RCN members. More information about safety representatives
Support the learning and career development of RCN members in the workplace through enabling members to meet continuing professional development requirements for safe and effective practice. More information about learning representatives
Find out more about the role of representatives:
- Read the Generic role descriptor (PDF 30.7KB) [How to access PDF files]
- See the page How to become a representative
- Listen to some of our representatives talking about their role.
Trade union recognition
The issue of trade union recognition changed with the introduction of the Employment Relations Act 1999 (ERA) 3. The Act gives workers the legal right to collective bargaining by a recognised trade union, provided there is clear support in the workforce, and that at least 21 people are employed. This applies to the NHS and some other employers, but does not apply to all employers in the independent sector.
If your employer does not recognise trade unions and you believe there is sufficient support then contact your RCN regional or national office, or RCN Direct on 0845 772 6100 who will advise you further.