Branch guidance for the referral of cases for regional assistance

The UNISON CASE form

The UNISON Caseform should be used in conjunction with UNISON’s nationally adopted Representation Guide (dated January 2016) and provides a means to:

  • ensure that branch reps have all the key facts and information they need from the outset;
  • monitor branch casework and the kind of cases being raised by our members;
  • enable the branch to identify patterns or concentrations of problems within a section or employer;
  • allow for case allocation to the most appropriate rep and with the ability to identify buddying experiences for new or inexperienced stewards;
  • ensure the member is given and understands the obligations on their part when receiving assistance from UNISON.

Download the UNISON CASE Form (available in word, pdf, and large print formats).

How to use the CASE form

The UNISON Caseform should be used for all workplace issues that require (or may lead to) ongoing support from the steward/branch and/or Regional Office to individual member(s) who have approached the union for advice, assistance or representation.

A UNISON Case form is required for every individual case referred on – both within the branch and to Regional Office.Typically sections 1-14 of the Caseform should be completed by the member (with branch assistance) in the first instance.

A referral to UNISON Regional Office will require all sections, including 15-22 of the Caseform to be completed. In collective referrals a separate Case form is required for each member the branch believes may have a claim for legal assistance and/or representation.

To avoid any difficulties with reading member’s handwriting, branches are strongly encouraged to use the electronic versions of the UNISON CASE form, completing the form digitally prior to saving, printing and signing.

Conditions of Representation

During the first meeting with a member you are strongly advised to explain the content and implications of the conditions for providing representation to them. This can be found as a tear-off slip at the rear of the Caseform. Give them a copy of this and ask them to confirm they have received this at Section 14 of the Caseform (where their signature is required). Please also ensure that Section 13, the Legal Services Agreement is signed.

Please ensure your branch office, or identified branch lead officer for representation (where there is no office), is provided with the name, employer and workplace of the member you are supporting. They may also require a copy of the case papers in order to ensure arrangements are in place should cover be required.

Please ensure that the individual is a UNISON member, confirm when they joined and that they have paid and are paying at the correct rate of subscriptions and not in arrears. (Rule C 5.1, agreed at the 2017 National Delegate Conference sets out that membership commences on the date details of membership are entered into the membership records system).

Representation is not provided where the issue for which the member seeks assistance occurred or first became apparent to the member before the member joined the union. See sections 4.1 and 6.3 of the UNISON member representation guide.

The member should be notified that full assistance is available to them in accordance with UNISON Rule K.2 which covers qualifications for legal assistance, which is as follows:

  1. The member must have been in membership of the union for at least 4 weeks prior to the incident or occurrence that leads her/him seeking legal assistance from the union.
  2. The member must not be in arrears of subscriptions.

Where members are no longer employed, please ensure they comply with either:

Rule C.2.4.1 for unemployed members:

Members dismissed or made redundant……may acquire unemployed membership for two years from the date of dismissal, redundancy, or agreement. This entitles them to receive benefits from the union for up to two years after that date, provided they remain unemployed.
(Members in accordance with this rule will pay £4 per year)

or Rule C.2.6.1 for retired members:

A member may apply at any time for retired membership if she/he has had at least two years’ continuous membership immediately prior to their retirement from employment within those areas of work set out in Rule C.1 and who are retired.
(Members in accordance with this rule will pay £15 for lifetime retired membership)

Advice on assistance for new members should always be sought from the lead branch officer or your Regional or Area Organiser before any action is agreed with the member. 

Appropriate source of representation and when to refer cases to the regional office

What level is the case at?

  • Investigations and low level disciplinary and grievance hearings are always expected to be dealt with by the branch.
  • Dismissal and final stage appeal hearings should in most cases be dealt with by the branch, unless the branch’s Regional Organiser confirms the branch is unable to provide appropriate local representation and/or the case is of strategic/legal importance.
  • Complex and discrimination cases and all potential legal claims should be referred to Region (all potential legal claims must be referred to Region no later than one month before any applicable Employment Tribunal deadline).
  • Fitness to Practice cases (e.g. NMC and HCPC referrals) and final stage pensions appeals should also be referred to Region.
  • Regional case advice surgeries are provided fortnightly in each team area by the Regional Organiser detailed at the end of this guidance to provide in person or phone advice to stewards; dates on the SE website. Email and telephone advice can also be sought from the Case Lead RO outside of these dates.
  • Branch case surgeries and training can be arranged with your Regional Organiser as part of Branch Development. Your branch’s Regional and Area Organisers are also available to provide advice on casework to stewards and officers.

See the Case referral process flow chart for a visual guide.

Caseform submission and enclosures checklist

Caseforms seeking Regional representation should be sent to:

POST: Case Allocator, UNISON South East, Ranger House, Walnut Tree Close, Guildford, GU1 4UL

EMAIL: se-newcasereferrals@unison.co.uk 

When attaching relevant correspondence to the Caseform please include copies (not originals) of the following documents, as this will help to prevent unnecessary delay. This is not an exhaustive list and you can include other items of relevance:

  • The member’s Written Statement of Employment Particulars (their contract)
  • Their  job description
  • The procedure(s) the employer is using or that you intend to use to raise a matter and/or the reorganisation plan the employer is referring to
  • Written correspondence from the employer relating to the issue e.g. copies of letters/e-mails inviting the member to meetings or explaining the outcome of meetings
  • If the member has been dismissed from employment (including redundancy) – a copy of the dismissal letter sent by their employer
  • If the member has appealed, a copy of their appeal letter and if the appeal has been heard, the employer’s appeal decision letter
  • Written correspondence from the member or union rep relating to the issue e.g. copies of e-mails/letters sent to the employer
  • Medical or occupational health reports (if applicable)
  • A date timeline of key dates relating to the case e.g. when the first incident occurred, when the matter was first raised, when the member attended meeting(s) with employer
  • Evidence of the claim e.g. copies of witness statements you already have, photographic evidence, correspondence etc.

Employment Tribunal (ET) protocol

The guidance above should be read in conjunction with the latest UNISON ET Representation Scheme Protocol Guidance for Branches 2017 (issued October 2017).

Please be mindful of Tribunal deadlines as set out in the protocol.  If you have any queries, please contact your Regional Organiser or the Case lead/allocator for your branch’s team area: