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  • The Unite offer explained

    The Unite offer explained


The framework offer explained

Below is the entirety of the framework offer. We have included explainers as to what the content means to you. 

Where you see underlined bold text the following explainer will detail what this means. 


This best and final offer of a Dispute Resolution Agreement represents the outcome of further discussions at industry-wide level between representatives of the passenger train operators (TOCs) listed in Appendix 1 and the Rail Sector within Unite the Union (Unite) arising from the dispute over jobs, pay and conditions between the TOCs & Unite.

This Agreement sets out the Workforce Changes to be proposed by the TOCs as a result of their new funding arrangements and contracts with the Department for Transport (DfT) which require them to ensure the rail sector remains a financially and operationally sustainable undertaking.

This Dispute Resolution Agreement contains a set of agreed principles (“the National Principles”) which the TOCs will implement as Workforce Changes according to their business needs. The adoption of this Agreement will resolve and exhaust the current disputes between Unite and the TOCs over jobs, pay (up until the 2024 annual pay anniversary dates) and conditions and will entail the cessation of any future industrial action over these issues. Individual TOC annual pay negotiations will then next commence for the respective 2024 pay anniversary dates.

These National Principles on “Workforce Changes” set out in this Dispute Resolution Agreement will constitute the industry benchmark standard although it is accepted that a TOC may retain existing agreements which conflict with the National Principles if those agreements provide greater flexibility and/or lower costs to the TOCs.

These National Principles will supersede existing collective agreements (i.e., Company Council and/or Local Representative) only where they contravene, restrict, or obstruct the specific implementation of the Workforce Changes set out in this document.

What this means

Essentially, this means existing local agreements stay, unless they contradict the contents of this document.

This Dispute Resolution Agreement sets out National Principles for application and implementation through the collective bargaining and consultation arrangements in each of the TOCs as appropriate to their business.

This Agreement is not intended to be legally enforceable either by or against any TOC, the Unite or any employee of any TOC.


Unite’s agreement to these National Principles allows for a TOC to give the following commitments, in return for Unite not (a) failing to agree or disputing the implementation of the TOC’s Workforce Changes through the TOC’s collective processes, or (b) taking any planned or future industrial action in response to the TOC’s implementation of the Workforce Changes:

1. That there will be no compulsory redundancies of employees within the grades directly affected by the Workforce Changes (see Appendix 1) within that TOC from the date of this agreement until 31st December 2024.

What this means

This offers a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies until at least December 2024. The voluntary redundancy scheme is specifically included in the offer to minimise the need for compulsory redundancies beyond that.

There’s a job for everyone in the railway who wants one, with a generous re-training and re-skilling package on offer.

Based on the number of individuals who left the industry via the Voluntary Severance Scheme run in 2021, the industry estimates that a similar number of people might apply for the voluntary redundancy scheme.

2. That the TOC may implement the Workforce Changes as appropriate to their business, following their existing collective bargaining and consultation arrangements.

What this means

This paragraph is designed to make clear that - once agreed - the final detail of how these principles is implemented at each train company will be discussed under the collective bargaining arrangements at each TOC. This allows the specifics of the agreements to reflect the nuances of each business - for example, some TOCs have Sunday Working protocols in place already and will require minimal, if any, changes.

3. On the basis of this Agreement until 31st December 2024, TOCs will not propose further workforce reform measures beyond those specifically referenced for those grades directly affected by this agreement. For the avoidance of doubt this excludes proposals already agreed but not yet implemented, those verified as already in development at the date of this agreement, plus normal ‘business as usual’ changes that may be required by both employer and staff representatives.

What this means

This is a ‘no surprises’ clause, with TOCs committing to no further Workforce reforms until at least 2024.

4. Subject to the implementation of the Workforce Changes as appropriate to a TOC’s business, the TOC will implement the pay and conditions elements of this Agreement as set out in Appendix 2. The 1st year pay increase will be paid upon this Agreement being endorsed for each respective TOC. The 2nd year pay increase will be payable from the relevant TOC pay anniversary date subject to a jointly agreed implementation plan in each TOC being in place.

What this means

The pay offer represents a minimum 9% pay increase for all grades covering the period of the offer (22/23 and 23/24) with up to a total of a 13% pay rise for colleagues on the lowest pay in the industry.

Pay for 2022 would be backdated to the relevant pay anniversary date, which varies from train company to train company.


7-Day Railway: to ensure robust coverage of Sunday Services

The TOCs propose to establish a Sunday Commitment Protocol. This will mean that staff who are rostered to work a Sunday shift are committed and contractually required to work their shift where alternative competent staff cannot be identified to cover.

Unite accepts the TOCs proposals for a robust system via a Sunday Commitment Protocol to deliver a 7-day railway and now commits to agreeing with each TOC a variation to the working arrangements of staff to give effect to the Principles of Sunday Commitment Protocol. Where Sundays are worked that are in addition to the basic average contracted working hours per week, they will continue to attract the current agreed TOC specific enhanced rate for both existing and new employees.

Principles of Sunday Commitment Protocol 

  • Removal of reliance on voluntary overtime to resource Sundays... 

What this means

To meet the growing demand for weekend leisure travel, particularly on Sundays where demand has increased significantly post-Covid, current voluntary and ad-hoc working arrangements across the railways would be formalised.

...and replacement with robust contractual commitment to work rostered shifts (both diagrams and spare turns as may be rostered to meet business needs) on Sundays under a ‘Commitment to Work Sundays Protocol’.

What this means

Provided alternative cover is available to work the Sunday (where it is outside working week), colleagues would still be able to give up their Sunday turn. If no alternative cover is available, staff would be required to work their rostered turn.

  • For the avoidance of doubt, where Sundays are not able to be included within the basic working week all future new entrants will be required to work their rostered Sunday shifts under this ‘Commitment to Work Sunday Protocol’.
  • Where Sundays are not incorporated into the basic working week any current agreed TOC Sunday premium enhancements will continue to be payable to both existing and new employees where any Sunday enhancements are payable in addition to working the average basic contracted working hours per week.

What this means

This bullet point makes it clear that existing Sunday enhancement rates set out in company-specific agreements would apply for existing and new staff, and there is an opt-out option for current staff who don’t regularly volunteer for Sunday working today.

  • Where Sundays are currently outside of the basic working week and an existing employee has historically not worked their rostered Sunday turns, those employees will be given a one-off opportunity prior to the implementation of this Protocol to seek an exemption from all future Sunday working by giving written notice to not work their Sunday turns. This will be granted once committed cover can be provided from within existing staffing and/or, part-time or extra weekend-only employees can be recruited and trained to cover.

What this means

This is designed to allow colleagues who have traditionally not regularly worked Sundays to opt out of the protocol.

Where part-time or weekend only employees are recruited, Sunday enhancements will only be payable where the employee has worked the average basic contracted working hours per week of their grade.

  • A process for roster implementation will be agreed within each TOC taking into consideration existing roster parameters and reasonable notice periods. Such rosters will fulfil 7 day working as required.
  • Where existing arrangements are already in place and in line with these principles, those arrangements will continue to operate. The current arrangements for job share applications will remain unaffected.

Training and Briefing

Training, including specification, design and delivery, is the responsibility of management and any safety critical training will be subject to appropriate safety validation. Training will optimise training capacity utilising a blended combination of classroom, workplace and on-line as appropriate. This to also include technology enabled approaches along with modern learning techniques.

Management will be responsible for producing training and briefing materials and the associated length of time of any training and briefings. It will also determine how the training and briefing will be undertaken, i.e., face to face or remotely via online.

Where an employee is required to attend company training and briefings they will be normally expected to work part of the shift either prior to or after training or briefing session, dependant on session times and location.

Fleet & Administration Reorganisations

The TOCs will bring forward proposed reorganisations within Fleet & Administration, where appropriate which will be subject to consultation in accordance with the collective bargaining procedures within the respective TOCs. Unite acknowledges that reorganisation proposals tabled by the TOCs will aim to deliver: -

  • Fleet organisations that deliver improved availability and reliability of train fleets to meet passenger demands and expectations for a 7-day railway that may incorporate as appropriate:
    • receiving, reviewing, updating and sign off of shift workloads;
    • downloading, analysing, checking and monitoring of electronic systems;
    • receiving, reading and acknowledgement of briefs, notes, bulletins and information;
    • electronic signing on and off duty
    • introduction of the movement of rolling stock within depot operating limits by designated engineering grades (for which an allowance will be payable).

What this means

We are proposing changes to improve how we do things at depots. For example, in some areas of the industry, engineering teams still rely on paper records for maintenance, despite digital record-keeping being quicker, more accurate, and making people’s jobs easier.

Many train operators are likely to have these kinds of agreements already, but this is designed to share and align best practices across the industry.

The implementation of administration re-organisations to deliver more streamlined processes.

Any changes that the TOCs propose to implement will be subject to complying with their respective collective bargaining arrangements and statutory collective redundancy consultation.

Terms and Conditions

The TOCs intend to propose a number of changes to terms and conditions and policies applicable to all employees (excluding train driving grades) covered under general grades TOC collective bargaining arrangements as summarised below. These will be subject to discussion within each TOC regarding their implementation. Unite agrees to discuss each of these proposals in good faith with each TOC which proposes them and where appropriate to agree with those TOCs any changes to employees’ terms and conditions in order to give effect to the proposals summarised below.

Flexible Working

The use of part time contracts and effective use of flexible working rosters and patterns are to be encouraged that seek to balance meeting individual preferences with the needs of the business where this is feasible. This will support a more diverse workforce that more reflect the communities individual TOCs serve.

What this means
For clarity - this is NOT zero hours contracts.

These new contracts would be available to existing colleagues and new starters, where appropriate. Train companies hope these could lead to the development of a more diverse workforce – such as parents with young children and older people seeking to reduce the hours they work but not retire.

The specifics of each contract will vary according to business needs, you could imagine early shift- or late shift-only contracts, so parents could pick up/drop off children at school, or take care of a vulnerable family member, for example.

New Technology/Equipment

Where new technology or automation is introduced or has previously been in use, where required employees will receive the training needed to carry out their duties. No new additional payments including any changes to incentive payments as applicable will be made for undertaking training, using past or new technology, automation, or associated changes to ways of working. e.g., use of body worn cameras, tablets, mobile phones, ticket examination/checking etc.

What this means
A reminder that the offer includes a minimum 9% pay increase over the period covered by the agreement.

We are proposing changes to improve how we do things. For example, in some areas of the industry engineering teams still rely on paper records, despite digital record-keeping being quicker, more accurate, and make people’s jobs easier.

Where required, employees will receive the training needed to carry out their duties.

Some train operators may have these kinds of agreements in place already.

Where legacy payments are in place and being paid to an employee on a periodic basis these will continue to be made whilst the individual is deployed in that role.

What this means

Clarification that these payments will continue.

Train Movements

Implementation of depot train movements by designated engineering grades, within depot operating limits, with appropriate training and remuneration/allowance.

Attendance Management

What this means

Our aim is to create a consistent approach across the industry that is in line with ACAS best practices.

New Managing for Attendance procedure based on ACAS Guidance will be introduced to improve and simplify processes for supporting employees who are unable to attend for work due to sickness and to improve attendance levels. A TOC working group will be established with employers and TU representatives to discuss this new procedure which will incorporate the following principles: 

  • Managing and supporting employees with irregular attendance to help them improve their attendance to an acceptable level
  • Agreed trigger points to be used to monitor and identify employees whose attendance levels are a cause for concern
  • Four stage process (including an informal stage 1) to discuss with an employee their reasons for absence including any underlying causes not previously identified and to offer support and to seek an improvement in future attendance levels
  • Where there is an improvement in attendance over the subsequent monitoring period the employee would revert to the previous stage of the procedure and where an employee demonstrates a sustained improvement over multiple monitoring periods they would be removed from the procedure
  • Right of accompaniment at all formal stages

Stood Off Arrangements

Where stood off arrangements are still in use within a TOC these will be jointly reviewed including duration with the objective of updating and redefining them in the context of modern working practices and current legislation. This is to include clarifying the utilisation and types of alternative work that may be offered to employees under these arrangements.

What this means

Stood Off arrangements apply if a colleague becomes ill or medically unable to do their job or are restricted in the tasks they are able to carry out during the course of their employment.

If suitable accommodations or adjustments can’t be made to their existing roles, colleagues are stood off on full pay while a suitable alternative role is found.

In particular, the review seeks to clarify the roles considered ‘suitable’ to be offered to employees under these arrangements.

Annual Leave Entitlement

Bank and Public Holidays will be a normal working day ensuring a standard approach and improved operational resilience across the industry.

Unless expressly referenced in existing agreements as additional days leave, employees will be required to take a day’s Holiday from their personal entitlement if the 25th or 26th December falls on a rostered working day and they are not required for duty. Enhancements for working on these dates will continue to apply.

What this means

There are no changes to current Christmas Day and Boxing Day leave entitlements, contrary to some interpretations of this clause. This sentence clarifies that current arrangements remain in place for existing colleagues.

Some colleague agreements explicitly specify that these days are treated as additional leave. Others state they remain part of the working week, but colleagues have equivalent additional days built into their general leave entitlement. Both of these arrangements remain unchanged. Enhancements for working on these dates will continue to apply.

For new staff, we will implement a common approach across all train operators - all eight Bank Holidays will be part of the working week, paid at existing enhanced rates. An additional eight days’ leave will be added to their general entitlement.

The Annual Leave entitlement for employees leaving their employment will be pro-rata to the date of leaving irrespective of the reasons for leaving.

The standard Leave Entitlement for new employees will be 5 weeks and 8 days inclusive of bank and public holidays and applied pro rata for employees working part-time hours contracts. Where the number of days leave to be taken in the total rostered weeks allocated does not reflect the days associated with the standard working week the number of ad-hoc days leave due will be adjusted accordingly.

Existing additional leave entitlements relating to completed years’ of service will continue to apply.

Sick Pay Arrangements

The sick pay entitlement will be on a rolling 12-month basis. The entitlement will be calculated at the commencement of an employee’s sickness absence based on the remaining unused entitlement over the preceding 12-month period.

What this means

These are the only changes proposed to sick pay arrangements for existing colleagues - sick pay entitlement will now be on a rolling 12-month basis.

There are changes to sick pay entitlements for new entrants up to 5 years’ service prior to reaching the full sick pay entitlement.

Except for the above, there will be no changes to current sick pay entitlements and qualifying periods for Company Sick Pay for existing employees.

For new entrants the maximum Company Sick Pay entitlement after completion of 5-years’ service will be 26 weeks full pay and 26 weeks half pay. The table below details the arrangements for new entrants from their start date to the completion of 5 years’ service: 

What this means

Note that this does not apply to existing staff.


0 to 6 months

6 months to 1 year

1 year to 2 years

2 years to 3 years

3 years to 5 years

5 years plus

Company Sick Pay Entitlement


3 weeks full / 3 weeks half pay

6 weeks full/6 weeks half pay

12 weeks full / 12 weeks half pay

16 weeks full/16 weeks

26 weeks full/26 weeks half pay 

Time off for company health appointments including screenings

Where an employee is required to attend company health appointments including referrals, alcohol & drug screenings or telephone consultations they will be normally expected to work part of the shift either prior to or after the appointment or screening, dependant on appointment times and location. Where company health appointments require specific actions from the employee, e.g., to fast, consideration will be given to any such arrangements.

What this means

Appropriate accommodations will be made to staff depending on the nature of their appointment, and subsequent fitness to work.

Review of former BR Conditions of Service

The former BR Conditions of Service books to be jointly reviewed and agreed with any former conditions of service that have not already been withdrawn or superseded to be rescinded unless they are agreed to be retained and updated to align with modern and more agile working practices.

What this means

It is important to note the joint nature and agreement of the review. It recognises BR Conditions of Service, drawn up between the 1960s and 1980s, as a single definitive record of staff terms and conditions.

Forty years later, they are very clearly out of date as local agreements, working practices or modern legislation have superseded many of those conditions.

We would expect this review to consolidate changes made since they

Employment Security

What this means

There is a voluntary redundancy scheme included in the offer.

There’s a job for everyone in the railway who wants one, with a generous re-training and re-skilling package on offer and a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies until at least December 31 2024.

Based on the number of individuals who left the industry via the Voluntary Severance Scheme run in 2021, the industry estimates that a similar number of people might apply for the voluntary redundancy scheme.

Recognising the concerns over the risk of compulsory redundancies each TOC will agree in return for Unite honouring its commitments in this document (including but not limited to those commitments not to fail to agree and/or to dispute, or take planned or future industrial action in connection with any of the Workforce Change proposals in this Agreement), to a range of employment security measures to help support employees through this transitional period of workforce change as set out below:

  • There will be no compulsory redundancies of employees within the grades directly affected by these Workforce Changes in any of the TOCs listed in Appendix 1 from the date of this Agreement through to 31st December 2024.
  • Redeployment – to allow opportunities for affected employees to move to a suitable alternative role through an agreed redeployment scheme.
  • Re-skilling and re-training programmes – to support affected employees with attaining the necessary skills and competence to adapt to changes in existing roles and/or new roles to meet passenger expectations and encompass new technology development.
  • Voluntary Redundancy Scheme (VRS) – offering the terms set out under the RIRG Enabling Framework Agreement in 2021, to allow affected employees the opportunity to leave the industry should they wish to apply to do so. Any decision to grant VRS will remain with the relevant employer.