Officer Roles


Tasks relating to the office of branch chairperson:

  • to preside at all meetings of the branch and branch committee in accordance with the guidance given above

  • to agree on the agenda for meetings with the secretary

  • to ensure that business is properly conducted

  • to advise the branch officers and branch committee in respect of matters relating to procedure and interpretation of rules

  • to ensure that all functions of the branch are carried out

  • to work closely with the secretary to provide leadership to the branch.


The branch secretary is responsible for ensuring the proper completion of the following tasks. It is not expected that, especially in larger branches, the branch secretary will personally undertake all these functions but will act as the strategic lead officer and co-ordinator within the branch.

The secretary will encourage partnership working within the branch committee and the development of new representatives will be the manager of branch staff and will manage the delegation of work to other branch officers and branch staff as appropriate, whilst providing support and guidance.

Tasks relating to the office of branch secretary:

  • to guide the branch’s development through the preparation and implementation of a

  • branch organisation and development plan

  • to ensure the representation of members within the branch in accordance with national guidance and that case forms and applications for services forwarded to UNISON offices are properly completed and authorised

  • to convene and attend all meetings of the branch and branch committee.

  • to arrange for the minutes of meetings to be kept in a proper manner and circulated to all branch officers and stewards

  • to arrange for branch records to be kept in a proper manner

  • to ensure the branch, speedily and accurately, processes applications for membership and maintains records in accordance with UNISON’s systems

  • to ensure regular communication with the members of the branch with news of campaigns, negotiations, issues, branch developments and activities

  • to communicate with the union’s regional and head offices on behalf of the branch

  • to ensure that branch members are aware of opportunities to participate in the activities of the wider union, or within self-organisation if appropriate

  • to support, mentor and encourage the stewards in the branch on an individual and collective basis. The branch secretary should seek to meet with each steward on a one-to-one basis, to discuss issues and workplace organisation, on a six-monthly basis

  • to ensure that members and stewards are aware, and take advantage, of educational and training opportunities within UNISON

  • to ensure that appropriate publicity activities are developed and co-ordinated by the branch

  • to act as spokesperson for the branch when in contact with other levels of the union

  • and external organisations

  • to ensure that members receive the benefits, rights and services to which they are entitled

  • to co-ordinate all branch negotiations and industrial relations matters

  • to ensure, in conjunction with the branch committee, that the branch observes the

  • union’s rules support UNISON campaigns and work towards achieving UNISON’s objectives

  • to ensure the proper management and direction of any branch-employed staff.


Tasks relating to the office of branch treasurer:

  • to conduct the branch’s financial business

  • to keep accounts in accordance with the rules

  • to provide reports on the financial position of the branch to the branch committee or branch executive committee

  • to provide a detailed financial report for the annual branch meeting(s)

  • to advise the branch officers and branch committee in respect of matters relating to financial management and appropriate expenditure

  • to provide an audited annual return of branch income.


Tasks relating to the post of branch communications officer:

  • to explain UNISON’s policies and to provide the information members need to play an active role in their union

  • to assist with efforts to recruit new members

  • to help support UNISON’s national and regional campaigns

  • to help create a positive image for the branch among members, potential members and the public

  • to produce news sheets or bulletins for distribution to branch members.

  • to lead on the development of electronic communication with members – email, web, etc

  • to ensure branch communications are in the accessible formats members need - audit for any particular requirements such as large print/ Braille etc

  • to ensure that nationally and regionally produced publicity and campaign materials are distributed, as appropriate, to stewards and onward to members and non-members

  • to monitor local media for stories that affect the branch and take appropriate action

  • to help ensure that the branch makes effective contact with the media whenever necessary by:

    • creating and maintaining mailing lists to media outlets and contacts

    • writing press releases

    • ensuring that appropriate individuals within the branch are available for comments, interviews, etc

    • writing ‘letters to the editor’.


Tasks relating to the post of branch education co-ordinator:

  • to make sure all new stewards and safety representatives receive initial information and guidance about their duties, e.g. stewards handbook, rulebook, service conditions agreements, etc

  • to publicise the range of educational and training opportunities available to members and activists

  • to get untrained stewards, safety representatives and other branch officers onto appropriate training courses

  • to co-ordinate and support the work of learning representatives

  • to encourage branch members and activists to make use of the UNISON Open College courses, especially ‘Return to Learn’ and ‘Women, Work and Society’

  • to maintain contact with the regional education officer/regional education committee

  • to establish a plan of training for activists and to produce an annual budget to meet its costs

  • to keep records of what training has been undertaken and by whom within the branch

  • to make sure that activists get paid time off for training where appropriate.


The branch equality officer has a number of important functions. It is not expected that the office holder will be the font of all knowledge on every equality issue, nor carry sole responsibility for the branch’s equality work. Everyone shares responsibility for tackling prejudice and discrimination and promoting equality. The role of the branch equality officer is to coordinate and monitor this shared responsibility.

Tasks relating to the office of equality officer:

  • to be the identified and well-publicised point of contact in the branch for equality issues

  • to collect and share information on equalities issues, including information from the regional and national self-organised groups

  • to make sure other branch officers and the branch committee consider the equalities dimension of everything they do

  • to make sure “equal opportunities” is being raised in all collective bargaining – not just in bargaining on ‘pure’ equalities issues

  • to encourage and support the development of branch self-organised groups on behalf of the branch committee

  • to have a coordinating role among the self-organised groups, and between the self-organised groups and the rest of the branch

  • to make sure new recruits know about UNISON’s commitment to equality and opportunities to participate in self-organisation

  • to advise the branch officers and branch committee on the development and monitoring of the action plan to achieve proportionality and fair representation;

  • to coordinate the development and training of members from under-represented groups.

  • to coordinate motions and support delegates attending self-organised group conferences.


Tasks relating to the post of health and safety officer:

  • to increase the awareness of members, health and safety representatives and branch officers of health and safety issues

  • to organise the information held by the branch on health and safety

  • to co-ordinate the activity of health and safety representatives and to organise regular meetings of health & safety representatives to exchange information and consider priorities

  • to be closely involved in all negotiations with the employer on matters related to health and safety

  • to advise the branch committee on health and safety issues arising in the branch and to recommend policies and priorities

  • to act as a link between the health and safety representatives and other branch representatives to ensure that health and safety issues are treated as an integral part of the work of the branch

  • to maintain contact with the region and regional service groups, for example via the regional health and safety committee.


Tasks relating to the post of membership officer:

  • to map the branch’s membership in order to identify membership density and steward coverage

  • to monitor the branch’s recruitment, and also leavers rate

  • to work with the branch committee to develop and implement its organisation and development plan

  • to make recommendations to the branch committee on recruitment activities, targets, resources, budgets, etc.


Tasks relating to the post of branch welfare officer:

  • to ensure that branch officers, stewards and workplace representatives, and also employers, have regular up-to date-information about UNISON Welfare and its range of services

  • to ensure that members seeking welfare assistance receive a prompt, supportive and effective response

  • to liaise and co-ordinate with regional and national levels to ensure that UNISON Welfare support is provided effectively

  • to undertake training and seek advice from UNISON Welfare where necessary

  • to develop and implement local welfare activity

  • to develop links with local charities and sources of support such as Citizen’s Advice Bureau and women’s refuges.


The role of the branch young members’ officer is ideal for someone who is interested in becoming more active in the union. The post may be a stepping stone to becoming a steward or taking on wider roles.

Tasks relating to the post of young members’ officer:

  • Other branch officers will assist in these tasks.

  • Branch young members’ officer must be under 27 years of age for the whole of their term of office.

  • to recruit new members and to encourage existing young members to become active in the branch

  • to make sure issues of concern to young workers are raised by the branch

  • to act as a focal point for all young workers in the branch and workplaces

  • to receive and distribute UNISON young members information

  • to encourage involvement in UNISON young members campaigns

  • to build branch young members organisation and to ensure there are potential new young members’ officers in the future.


The Branch Women’s Officer (BWO) offers the opportunity to bring about important changes for women in the workplace. UNISON can provide training for the role, and the BWO can network and work collaboratively with other BWO’s in their area. They can become involved in the regional women’s committee/forum or network, attend national women’s conferences and help UNISON agree on its work plan priorities for the national women’s committee. The branch women’s officer’s role includes:

  • Building links with women’s sector organisations and where appropriate signposting to specialist organisations for women (Domestic Abuse/Rape Crisis) and assisting in negotiations on employer policies on violence against women

  • Ensuring that the branch has a wide range of resources for women, such as books, videos and leaflets, and making these resources accessible to all women in the branch

  • Organising a women’s group and identifying concerns

  • Identifying women members of the branch, and liaising with the branch committee on progress towards proportionality

  • Being a focal point for women’s issues for members and raising issues affecting women, particularly those with service conditions implications with the branch committee

  • Supporting women in their issues generally and campaigning on issues that are important to women


Coordinates the union’s green and environmental agenda in the branch.

This is still a new role in many UNISON branches. The job of a trade union environmental representative involves representing the workforce in discussions and negotiations regarding the development and implementation of company/employer environmental policies and practices.

Where resources and capacity exist, the job can also involve acting on behalf of members as a link person with local environmental campaign organisations such as Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace or Stop Climate Chaos.

Environmental policies and practices can cover areas such as energy use, recycling, travel and procurement.


Tasks relating to the post of retired members’ secretary:

  • to ensure that those members approaching retirement have the opportunity to become retired members

  • to organise meetings of the branch retired members

  • to encourage the participation of retired members in branch activities as appropriate

  • to establish links with other retirement organisations in the area

  • to attend meetings of the branch committee (rule D6.5)

  • to submit a budget to the branch committee to fund retired member activities

  • to ensure that the retired members’ section functions in accordance with UNISON Rule and any branch standing orders and procedures.


The role of the auditor is to act on behalf of the branch’s members to ensure probity and that all branch expenditure is underpinned by democratic decisions made in accordance with UNISON rule. A candidate for the post of auditor CANNOT be a member of the branch committee.

Tasks relating to the post of branch auditor:

  • to oversee the financial records of the branch

  • to undertake an annual audit of the branch financial records

  • to provide a written report of the annual audit to the annual general meeting

  • to report any financial irregularities to UNISON’s internal audit department.