ACAS, the employment relations service, has published a new guide urging employers to acknowledge the role that employee representatives play in contributing to good employment relations and improving change management.

“Representation: finding its voice” highlights the positive role employee representatives play, particularly union representatives, in promoting better employment relations.

For example, in managing individual disciplinary and grievance issues, it points out that reps often act as sounding boards to managers, informally resolving problems before they come to the surface and helping to restore calm in often fraught situations.

In collective bargaining, the experience of many of Acas’ senior conciliators is that successful negotiation, often on very complex issues such as pay and conditions, can depend to a large extent on the skill and expertise of the union official.

Government research estimates there are around 320,000 onsite employee representatives in the UK.

As there can be a lack of understanding around what employee representatives do in practice and precisely what role they play in disciplinary and grievance discussions and negotiations with management, the new guide covers:

  • the benefits of employee representation 
  • how employee representatives are elected
  • what managers need to do
  • training and self-development
  • communication and consultation on issues such as health and safety
  • legal rights and responsibilities.


You can download the guide for free: