One of the most important roles a trade union can play is to ensure the welfare, health and safety of its members.
For nearly two hundred years this has been one of the ‘added values’ of trade union organisation. Independent academic evidence shows that trade union safety representatives can make the workplace twice as safe as those workplaces that don’t recognise a union.
Trade unions are now building upon the work undertaken by safety representatives in preventing accidents and injury, and in so doing improving the effectiveness of their organisations, by promoting and developing better health and greater well- being. By developing a proactive approach as champions of good health, trade unions can and do make a real difference to the quality of life of working people – the principal objective of trade unions.
Evidence of trade union contribution to improved health and well-being for individuals is clear and compelling; employers benefit from dramatically lower levels of absenteeism and increased productivity. As trade unions and employers step up their partnership work in this area, with the support and encouragement of the health service, these benefits will grow.
A poor approach to health and well-being at work is bad news for workers and employers and places an unnecessary, avoidable pressure on the health service.
Additionally, improving health and well-being in the workplace will also result in improvements in the health of workers’ families and friends. This guide will assist trade union representatives in developing knowledge of this agenda and engaging with employers to improve health and well-being in Britain’s workplaces.
Read our health, work and well-being toolkit.