What is personal case representation?

What is personal case representation, and who is entitled to it?

One of the core functions of your UCU branch is to provide advice, guidance and support on a wide-range of problems and concerns that members encounter at work. As UCU a member, it’s important that you are aware that if and when you do encounter work-related difficulties you are entitled to union representation – there’s no need to struggle on alone.

Also, don’t make the mistake of believing that union representation is reserved for more “serious” issues such as grievances, or threats of dismissal. We certainly represent members in such cases, but we also provide appropriate support on a much broader spectrum of queries, problems and difficulties. Typically, these might include:

  • Issues relating to pay, promotion, conditions of service, pensions etc.
  • Harassment and/or bullying
  • Work-related stress
  • Health and Safety
  • Returning to work following periods extended leave
  • All forms of discrimination
  • Threats of disciplinary action
  • Advice and support on contract expiries/extensions

You must be an existing member of UCU to receive advice, support and representation. New members will not normally be offered full support and representation for issues that arose before or within 90 days of joining. This applies in particular to members who have joined as a result of a difficulty or problem at work, including members who have previously lapsed from membership and do not rejoin until they need assistance.

How does personal case representation work?

Personal cases are, by their very nature, highly individual, and the nature and scope of representation will vary on a case by case basis. In some cases, it might well be a straightforward matter of initial consultation and advice followed by the occasional phone call or email. In others, more sustained involvement might be necessary. The support members receive will usually include one or more of the following:

  • Regular meetings to discuss progress
  • Advice and guidance via telephone and/or email
  • Referral to appropriate UCU regional and/or national services (including legal advice)
  • Representation in meetings and correspondence with line managers and personnel
  • Support and representation in disciplinary and grievance procedures

The degree and regularity of contact between member and representative will likewise vary according the nature and progress of the case in question.

Who provides representation?

As with other college and university branches, here at Leicester we rely on the efforts and energies of local activists, all of whom devote their own time to supporting and promoting the interests of colleagues. Central to the effectiveness of personal case work are clear and realistic expectations of the level and scope of support an individual representative is able to provide. Likewise, where specialist legal advice and/or representation is required, a personal case representative will refer members to the appropriate people.


For more information on how casework proceeds at Leicester see our protocols. (Word Doc)

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UCU is the largest trade union and professional association for academics, lecturers, trainers, researchers and academic-related staff working in further and higher education throughout the UK.

Visit the national site at  http://www.ucu.org.uk/