Members elect UCU department reps for our area of the university every two years (even years, starting in 2022), shortly after the Annual General Meeting. The committee will also arrange by-elections in the off-years where there are vacancies. Branch rules about the election of department reps

A network of department reps across the university is crucial for maintaining and increasing the strength of the union and ensuring the branch committee learns about problems in different areas.

The role of a UCU department rep

UCU department reps are a point of contact for union members in that school, department, service or area, and they alert the branch committee to issues concerning members in their area.

Department reps are not always caseworkers and are not expected to represent members in their area with individual problems (although many department reps are caseworkers, supporting members in other departments). Department reps don’t negotiate with local management on behalf of the union – all consultation and negotiation with UCU is done centrally by the negotiating team.

Department reps will try to welcome new staff and make sure they know about the union.

Changes to the available roles and boundaries for 2024 – 2026

The roles and boundaries have changed for this electoral period, with the aim of members electing teams of reps to work together in their area.

This page lists the number of department reps and health and safety reps you can elect in your area.

Instead of nominating for particular department rep roles or areas of focus (anti-casualisation, postgraduate, equality) these can be agreed later between the department reps elected. (Anyone taking a particular role is also still a general department rep.) This should give reps more flexibility if someone moves mid-term.

In a large department, if a rep wants, we could list a specific work area to help members to find them and to decide who might best understand their issue. For example, a department rep for the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies might want to be listed with “(French)” after their name, but they would still be a rep for the whole school.

The number listed for health and safety reps includes workload reps. (You can specify “workload rep” or “health and safety rep” in your nominations if you wish but a health and safety reps can change focus to being a workload rep and vice versa, subject to appointment by the health and safety officer and appropriate training.)

Department rep roles / areas of focus

UCU department anti-casualisation rep

Focussing on issues affecting members who are casualised: members on fixed-term or fixed-funded contracts and members who are hourly paid.

UCU department postgraduate rep

Focussing on issues affecting postgraduate students who teach or do other paid academic or academic-related (professional and managerial) work for the university.

UCU department equality rep

Focussing on issues of inequality and discrimination affecting members in the department.

UCU department workloads rep

Workloads reps are health and safety reps with a focus on workloads.

UCU department health and safety rep

Focussing on health, safety and wellbeing issues in the department

Who would be a good UCU department rep?

Try to think who would be the best person or people to be a UCU rep for your department. Challenge any stereotype you have of what union reps are like, be conscious that white and male union members are more likely to put themselves forward, and bear in mind that while someone who is more vocal at raising problems might be a good rep it might just be that they are already in a relatively more privileged situation so feel more able to complain. A good union rep will often be someone that colleagues have confidence in, whose judgement they trust, and who is a good listener.

You can find out more about the roles of UCU reps at

Standing for election as UCU department rep

The deadline for nominations for department reps will be notified to members by email. The deadline will normally be between two and four weeks after the Annual General Meeting.

After the request for nominations has been sent out, to nominate someone, simply email, ideally include the word “nomination” in the email subject, saying, for example:

Dear UCU branch administrator

I wish to nominate Maria García Sánchez for UCU department rep for the School of Design

Yours faithfully

James Smith

Each candidate needs two nominations by the deadline and to have confirmed by the deadline that they are willing to stand to be eligible for election. Nominations normally have to be from UCU members in the same department, but exceptions can be made for very small departments.

If you have any questions about the department definitions or exceptions for nominations for small departments, contact the branch administrator/organiser at

Workload and training

University of Leeds has a historically not-great record in ensuring staff have sufficient time off for trade union work, insisting it is part of ‘citizenship’ for most union reps whose workloads are calculated that way. Discussions are ongoing to try to improve the situation so that more reps have workloaded time off (or equivalent) in addition to citizenship. If you have any questions about this please contact the branch honorary secretary or branch president.

UCU provides training for UCU reps, and support and mentoring from more experienced union reps.

List of department representatives

This page was last updated on 23 May 2024