RCM workplace representatives are the backbone of the RCM

Representing and supporting members is a demanding role, which carries with it hard work and serious responsibilities.

Yet it can also be very satisfying, especially when you are able to win a fair deal for our members. The skills that you gain as a workplace rep will assist you in your career and will also aid your personal and professional development.

All our workplace representatives (WPRs) are fully trained to support, represent and negotiate. They are supported by officers who are registered midwives, able to understand clinical incident issues. RCM organisers will be on hand to assist workplace representatives in the recruitment of members, holding workplace meetings and for learning representatives, hosting events.

To help you decide whether you're up for this exciting challenge, we've created the So you want to be an RCM Workplace Representative booklet for midwives and maternity support workers (MSWs).

We have three types of workplace representatives with specific duties – stewards, learning representatives and health and safety representatives. For more information about these different positions, see below.

Stewards

Stewards carry out a number of responsibilities including representing midwives and maternity support workers (MSWs) in their workplace/trust/board when necessary and also help recruit RCM members.

What stewards have said about their profession:

"The role of a steward is amazing. It's demanding, challenging, but so worth it for your own professional development." - Linda Gierask, Retired Steward

  • Represent the members in your area where necessary
  • Recruit midwives, MSWs and student midwives into the RCM
  • Give advice and act as a spokesperson
  • Perform individual casework
  • Conduct some negotiations
  • Provide feedback to members at meetings
  • Support the RCM regional officer/national officer/organiser
  • Attend JSC and work in partnership with other NHS unions

Download the Steward Role Definition.

  • RCM membership (full or MSW category)
  • An understanding of midwifery issues
  • An interest in protecting and enhancing the role of the midwifery team
  • Motivation to assist your colleagues and the profession

Your peers, at a branch or workplace meeting, elect you to serve for the next year, and you are then accredited by the RCM. To obtain a Steward accreditation form, please contact your local Branch Officer, Organiser or Regional/National Officer.

  • Provide you with dedicated training on an ongoing basis, with agreed expenses met
  • Assist in your professional development
  • Support you wherever possible
  • Provide specialist advice on employment and professional matters
  • Put you in contact with the hundreds of other members who also act as stewards for the RCM
  • Give access to regional/national officers for advice and support
  • Receive monthly RCM WPR briefings by email with the latest information needed to fulfil your role
  • Acquisition of easily transferable skills that will assist in your career development
  • A role in contributing to the changing role of the midwifery team
  • Gaining greater knowledge of the midwifery profession and service developments
  • Increased confidence and self-esteem
  • Training in employment and professional matters
  • The satisfaction of making a difference to members' working lives, helping others
  • Reasonable time off to carry out your duties as a steward

Learning Representatives

Learning Representatives (LRs) are workplace representatives who assist and advise other members on their training and development needs and promote opportunities to access learning.

The role of LRs will vary from workplace to workplace, but could cover the following:

  • Explaining and promoting the benefits of learning to colleagues and employers
  • Signposting colleagues to learning opportunities both professional and personal
  • Being involved in conducting a learning needs questionnaire
  • Organising learning and development events
  • Raising awareness on functional skills and assisting members to address these
  • Raising awareness of lifelong learning issues
  • Supporting members in their preparation for appraisal and NMC revalidation (midwives)
  • Promoting the value of informal learning
  • Liaising with management on furthering the learning agenda for midwives and MSWs by identifying and articulating the workplace learning needs of members
  • Identifying opportunities for joint working with other NHS trade unions, for example, around the development of a local collective learning agreement or sharing examples of good practice
  • Raising awareness of learning or training opportunities provided by the employer and external providers
  • Being a resource for members by providing information, advice and guidance
  • Encouraging members to become more active at local Branch level through learning

Download the LR Role Definition.

  • RCM Full or MSW membership
  • An interest in learning and development in the maternity workplace
  • Motivation to assist your colleagues and the profession

Your peers, at a branch or workplace meeting elect you, and you are then accredited by the RCM. Advice on the election process can be sought from the branch secretary, LR learning organiser or your national/regional officer. To obtain an LR accreditation form, please contact your local Branch Officer, Organiser or Regional/National Officer.

The RCM will:

  • provide dedicated training on an ongoing basis, with agreed expenses met (In Scotland training is provided by the Scottish TUC)
  • assist in your professional development
  • provide support when required
  • offer specialist advice on learning
  • put you in contact with other RCM members who also act as LRs
  • give you access to national/regional officers and organisers for advice and support

LRs have the same rights under the Employment Act 2002 to have reasonable time off for carrying out their duties and to undertake training. As an LR you are entitled to paid time off to undertake training to fulfil your role.

All LRs will need to complete the RCM LR introductory training course so that they gain the skills and knowledge they will need to carry out their duties. These are offered through flexible formats, in order to accommodate learning style preference and personal commitments.

Download the Paid Time Off Letter to Attend Trade Union Activity.

  • Support midwives and MSWs to identify their learning and development needs
  • Provide advice, information and guidance to members
  • Work with the employer and education providers to increase learning and development opportunities
  • Support and promote the RCM Learning Team
  • Work in partnership with other NHS unions, for example, around the development of a local collective learning agreement or to share good practice
  • Acquisition of easily transferable skills that will assist in your career development
  • Gaining greater knowledge of the learning agenda within the NHS (Skills for Health)
  • Increased confidence and self-esteem
  • The satisfaction of making a difference to members' working lives and helping others
  • Reasonable time off to carry out your LR duties and undertake training
  • Assisting the RCM in broadening the range of services it offers to members and potential members
  • Helping to increase the knowledge and competence of the workforce, which can contribute to an improvement in maternity services

Our objective is to recruit a LR in every maternity workplace.

Health and safety representatives

Health and safety representatives are workplace reps who assist and advise other members on health and safety policy and procedures which may have an impact on their working environment. Responsibilities include investigating potential hazards and the causes of accidents and making representations to the employers on health, safety and welfare matters.

  • Enable effective co-operation in promoting and developing a healthy and safe workplace
  • Investigate potential hazards and investigate the causes of accidents
  • Investigate complaints by any RCM member and make representations to the employer on such matters
  • Carry out inspections in accordance with health and safety regulations
  • Liaise with the health and safety executive
  • Attend meetings of the safety committee

Download the Role Definition for Health and Safety Representatives.

  • RCM membership (full or MSW category)
  • An understanding of midwifery issues
  • An interest in protecting and enhancing the role of the midwifery team
  • Motivation to assist your colleagues and the profession

Your peers, at a branch or workplace meeting, elect you to serve for the next year, and you are then accredited by the RCM. To obtain a H&S Representative accreditation form, please contact your local Branch Officer, Organiser or Regional/National Officer.

The RCM will:

  • provide dedicated training on an ongoing basis, with agreed expenses met
  • assist in your professional development
  • support you whenever possible
  • provide specialist advice on health and safety matters
  • put you in contact with other members who also act as health and safety reps for the RCM
  • give access to regional/national officers for advice and support

Complete and return the Paid Time Offer Letter to Attend Trade Union Activity template letter to your manager/employer to ask for paid time off to attend trade union activity.

  • Represent the members in your area where necessary
  • Recruit midwives, MSWs and student midwives into the RCM
  • Provide advice and act as a spokesperson
  • Perform individual casework
  • Conduct some negotiations
  • Provide feedback to members at meetings
  • Support the RCM regional/national officer
  • Attend JSC and work in partnership with other NHS unions
  • Acquisition of easily transferable skills that will assist in your career development
  • A role in contributing to the changing role of the midwifery team
  • Gaining greater knowledge of the midwifery profession and service developments
  • Increased confidence and self-esteem
  • Training in health and safety matters
  • The satisfaction of making a difference to members' working lives, helping others
  • Reasonable time off to carry out your duties 

Training provided for workplace representatives

The access to free learning and development is one of the greatest benefits for our workplace representatives. It is a requirement of accreditation as an RCM steward, learning representative or health and safety representative to undertake training in order to carry out the role effectively.

The RCM provides a number of free training programmes for RCM-accredited workplace representatives through a blended learning approach. This includes residential courses, regional training days and annual activists conferences, which are complemented by online learning through i-learn. Workplace representatives can also access the training offered by the TUC. For those in Northern Ireland, it is the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU).

In addition to the residential courses, regional/country training days are held several times a year to update workplace representatives on any skills or changes to policies and procedures, and to allow ideas and experiences to be shared. As a workplace representative, these training days are a key part of your learning and development and you are expected to attend at least two training days per year.

You will also have regular contact with your regional/national officer for support, advice and an annual meeting to discuss any further learning or training needs you may have. It is the expectation that workplace representatives will attend activists' conferences and report back to branches their activities. For further information on our training courses, see the workplace representative training section of our Events section. We have a set of i-learn modules available for workplace representatives via the Activists section on i-learn.

What workplace representatives have said about their roles:

''Being a workplace representative enriched my working life and equipped me with the confidence and skills which benefited me in all areas of my life.''- Bernice Boyle, Retired workplace representative

Additional useful resources

How to order marketing materials

If you are an existing RCM Workplace Representative, you can order marketing materials (such as membership forms etc.) to support an event or activity you are holding to encourage RCM membership, by logging into the storefront using the instructions below.

Please note that this form is only open to RCM Workplace Representatives. Each name will be checked against our membership database. Members who are wanting materials need to contact their workplace representative directly.

You can set up your own account via the Storefront website here. Alternatively, you can email via enquiries@rcmconnect.org.uk or call us on 0300 303 0444 with your membership number and email address. Login details will be sent to you up to five working days later.

  • Click to visit the storefront.
  • Enter your username (the email address that you have registered with), followed by your password
  • Once you have accessed the storefront website, please add the materials you require to your shopping cart
  • Once you have confirmed your order, an order confirmation will be sent to your email

If you have any problems, please contact RCM Connect at 0300 303 0444.

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