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RCN reps

Become an RCN rep

If you are an RCN member and a registered nurse, nursing associate or nursing support worker in employment, you can apply to become an RCN representative.

You can become more involved with the work of the RCN by becoming a learning rep, safety rep or steward. Find out about the benefits of being an RCN rep and how to become one.  

Becoming an RCN rep gives you the chance to make a real difference to your patients, the working lives of yourself and your colleagues - and even the future of nursing.

If you are an RCN member and a registered nurse or a health care assistant in employment, you can apply to become an RCN learning representative, safety representative or steward. Being a rep is rewarding. You will get support from a close community of reps and RCN staff. Ongoing learning and development will help you become active as a rep and you will learn new skills which can enhance your nursing role. Students are not eligible to become reps, however, there are other ways you can get involved as a student member.

Want to become a rep?

Register your interest by completing our online form.

RCN Reps Hub

Are you already an RCN rep? Visit the Reps Hub for information and resources to support you in your role.

What you need to know about the role

Start by reading the Becoming an RCN Representative booklet.  You can print out the application form at the back, complete it and send it to your local RCN office. Alternatively register your interest online

Once we have received your application, someone will then contact you to arrange an informal chat to discuss the role.  This will give you an opportunity to talk through any questions you might have.  More information about the application process is detailed in the booklet.

As an RCN learning representative, you will enable RCN members to meet their continuing professional development requirements for safe and effective nursing practice.

With full support from the RCN, you will:

  • help members plan and manage their learning and development
  • help to develop training by negotiating and supporting CPD in the workplace
  • organise events such as seminars, study days and workshops, either with employers or local branches
  • keep up to date with learning opportunities and promote information, resources and support available to members.

As an RCN safety representative, you will work with employers to ensure a safe and healthy working environment for RCN members.

With full support of the RCN, you will:

  • influence the employer to work towards a healthy and safe environment, and negotiate and represent the health and safety interests of RCN members at work
  • carry out safety inspections and contribute to risk assessments in the workplace
  • represent RCN members on matters related to workplace accidents and incidents
  • alert work colleagues to the risks and their obligations for health and safety for themselves and others
  • work jointly with employers, to ensure compliance with relevant health and safety legislation.

As an RCN steward, you will promote workplace employment rights and ensure that members are treated fairly.

With full support from the RCN, you will:

  • support, advise and represent RCN members 
  • prepare and present cases on behalf of RCN members
  • help to prevent and resolve disputes in the workplace
  • help to formulate and implement a collective bargaining strategy
  • influence positive employment relations, in partnership with employers and other unions, and provide information and advice to RCN members on employment rights.

RCN members will look to you for help if they feel discriminated against at work, want to know more about their rights or are worried about poor working practices.

As an RCN representative, you are:

  • fully supported by RCN staff and by a network of other representatives throughout the UK
  • specially trained, with your continuing learning and development needs met by the RCN
  • encouraged to access a specialist area on the RCN's website, which contains a wide range of resources
  • kept up to date with news, advice, stories from other active members and tips on wellbeing at
  • invited to attend national conferences and events
  • entitled to a 25 per cent discount off the member rate for RCN conferences organised solely by the RCN
  • eligible to receive a special RCN award that recognises your hard work and achievements.

Where the RCN has a recognition agreement with an employer, trade union reps have statutory right to reasonable, paid time off from employment to carry out union duties. All NHS and many independent sector employers have recognition agreements with the RCN, but if you do not think your organisation has one, please talk to your RCN regional office about how we might work together to negotiate support and time-off for the role.

As a newly recruited representative, you'll start by attending a foundation module. On successful completion you will move on to your chosen development module, which prepares you for your role as RCN learning rep, safety rep or steward.

Once you’ve completed your foundation and development modules you will be eligible to attend continuing learning and development workshops and events for reps to maintain and develop your skills.  

The 'Becoming an RCN representative' booklet is designed to give an understanding of the role and activities of RCN representatives. It includes information and case studies about each of the representative roles to help you consider which may suit and interest you most. You’ll find an outline of the process for applying and an application form, along with information about what you can expect as you embark on your role, including learning, development and support.

Find out about the benefits of being an RCN rep from those who know