Union learning reps (ULRs)

What is a ULR? 

UNISON learning reps (ULRs) are volunteers who are willing to encourage and support other colleagues with learning in the workplace. 

Becoming a ULR 

ULRs are appointed by the branch. If you’re interested in becoming one, speak to your branch secretary or the organiser who works with your branch. 

ULRs are entitled to paid time off to carry out their role. This includes time for their own training.

UNISON provides introductory training for learning reps and there is potential follow-on training that you can undertake depending on your interests. 

You can get started by completing our e-note for potential ULRs. You’ll find this on the e-learning site (log in with your My.UNISON account and look for Getting more involved in UNISON: activist roles).

ULR Handbook

Our updated guide provides a detailed overview of the role of a UNISON Learning Representative (ULR).

You can view and download a copy using the following link:

ULR Handbook

The ULR Handbook can be ordered via the UNISON catalogue link below:

UNISON Catalogue



Unionlearn’s ULR page

ULR training

ULR Conference

E-learning site

Powerpoint presentation: Become a ULR – what’s not to like?

Supporting members through learning 

As a ULR, you will help your colleagues identify the skills they need to move on, and help them sort out things like time off to train, loans, grants and funding, or any additional support they might need. The information on this website about UNISON member learning will help you point them to some of the opportunities that are open to them. 

Supporting members learning for their career

Supporting members learning for personal fulfilment

Supporting members exploring formal study

Supporting members looking for a new job

Helping members improve their English, maths or IT skills

We have a wealth of additional resources to help you in your role.

A-Z of learning resources


Branch Guide to Lifelong Learning

This guide sets out what union learning representatives (ULRs) are and what rights they have. It outlines the organising potential of workplace learning and the benefits that branches can gain from supporting ULRs. It also gives advice on negotiating a learning agreement, making the best use of Government skills policy, and working with the UNISON College and other learning initiatives.

You can view and download a copy using the following link:

Branch Guide to Lifelong Learning

The guide can be ordered via the UNISON catalogue link below:

UNISON Catalogue


Developing as a ULR 

The role of a union learning rep allows you to learn and develop in your own right. Many learning reps are drawn to particular areas or needs and may develop specialist knowledge in, for example, dyslexia, or digital skills.  

Networking and sharing 

Connecting and keeping in touch with other ULRs can be really useful, letting you share experience, advice, and support. You can join the conversation in the Organising Through Learning community on the Organising Space. Many of our regions have networks for ULRs, inviting them to come together online or face to face. Your regional education team will be able to give you more information. 

Organising Space

Regional education teams


Photograph © Jess Hurd/reportdigital.co.uk