Book an ECS Test

The ECS test will assess your health and safety competency, in relation to all work conducted within the electrical industry. This will include questions on a range of subjects. These will cover general construction site safety and best practice, fire response and reaction to emergency situations, and the operation of electrical equipment. Candidates who successfully pass will obtain an ECS Card. This will permit them to access construction sites and commercial/domestic buildings for electrical works purposes.Booking an ECS test is a relatively simple process. However, there are a few things to be aware of. This article intends to walk candidates through the full assessment booking journey. Delegates will therefore gain an understanding of which bodies offer the assessment, how each of these organisations administer payment and scheduling, and what to do in the event of a required cancellation or change of date. It will also provide guidance for employers looking to co-ordinate testing on behalf of their employee(s).

Booking routes

Ultimately, there are three booking options available for candidates looking to take their ECS Health & Safety Test. These are:

  1. Booking through the ECA (Electrical Contractors Association).
  2. Booking directly through JIB (Joint Industry Board). This is the body accountable for delivering testing and grading standards across the industry. Therefore, this is, in essence, a booking made with the regulatory body for the test itself. However, booking directly with JIB will only usually occur in certain circumstances (further information below).
  3. Booking through Unite the Union (available for both members and non-members).

Each organisation has a slightly different booking process. Therefore, candidates and employers should understand the varying approaches, and select the one they’re most comfortable with. The following text serves to provide all the necessary information required to make an informed decision.

Booking a test with the ECA

The ECA (Electrical Contractors Association), is a highly credible trade association. It serves to protect and promote the interests of those working in the electrotechnical sector. In doing so, they offer test and assessment provisions on various topics. The ECA also has a membership scheme that works to support individuals by offering educational resources and key industry updates. Due to their infrastructure and commitment to learning support, candidates and employers booking via the ECA should feel extremely confident that a decent level of service will be provided.

Booking on behalf of yourself

Individual candidates can book with the ECA by calling them directly. Their telephone contact number is 01582 531047.

When calling, candidates should ensure that they are prepared with some basic information. This includes payment details for a valid credit or debit card, their date of birth, and their national insurance number. Without this, the ECA team will be unable to process your booking request. It’s worth noting that the card payment process is a service offered by the ECA on behalf of ECS/JIB organizations, as they are ultimately the awarding body. The payment will show up on your bank statement as ‘Electrical Contractors Internet’. If looking to pay be cheque, slips can be made out to ‘Electrical Contractors Association’. In terms of price, as per industry standard, the ECA charge £48 (inc. VAT) for the ECS Card Test.

Companies booking on behalf of employees

If you’re an employer, and therefore looking to book the assessment on behalf of one or many individuals, then you will need to refer to the booking form available on the ECA website. The form requests a range of candidate and employer information.

Those completing will need to highlight the region of the UK they require their testing venue to be, their companies full address details, and which ‘type’ of assessment is needed. This is crucial, as there are two available tests associated with the general ECS Card scheme. On the booking form, these are represented as ‘Electrician’ and ‘Site Visitor Assessment’. Please ensure you tick the ‘Electrician’ box, as this is the full ECS test required for those working in the construction/electrotechnical industry. The ‘Site Visitor Assessment’ refers to a watered-down version of the test, and is usually taken by those who have minimal contact with construction sites (such as estimators, sales reps, and delivery staff).

Block booking and payment specifics

If you’re looking to ‘block book’ a number of candidates onto a testing day at one specific venue, then please ensure the second part of the ECA booking form is completed. This will require the full names, date of births, and national insurance numbers of all relevant individuals. If booking several groups across several venues, then please repeat this process accordingly for each location.

Employers opting to pay by debit/credit card should indicate on the form that this is their preferred method of payment, and await a call from the ECS administration team to process your fee. For those looking to pay via cheque, each slip should correspond to the total payment due by venue. For example, if booking three individuals for an assessment in the North East, and four for a test in the West Midlands. This would be a cheque worth £144 (3 x £48 per test), and £192 (4x £48 per test) respectively. As per guidance above, cheques should be made payable to the ‘Electrical Contractors Association’.

Additional Information

You can also detail any special requirements needed, by completing the relevant section near the bottom of the form’s second page. ECA will provide appropriate provisions for disabled candidates. If a supporting reader is required, then individuals will need to provide proof of reasoning.

Booking forms are to be sent to the address located on the footer of the form. This address alludes to the ECS administration centre in Bedfordshire.

Bookings will not be formally registered until the ECA has received full payment. As with any private company, the ECA will have the right to take legal action if payments are defaulted upon. So, just make sure you have the necessary funds in your account before progressing with the booking process.

Address Venues

There are a number of ECA affiliated testing locations throughout England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Candidates and employers should therefore feel confident they’ll be able to find a venue accessible to them. Venues which are asterisked indicate that ECS tests are conducted here on a less frequent basis than others.

The ECA’s location and venue information is as follows:

  • North East: Newcastle (Tyne & Wear), York (North Yorkshire)
  • North West: Liverpool (Merseyside), Manchester (Lancashire), Barrow-in-Furness* (Cumbria)
  • Central: Chesterfield (Derbyshire)
  • East Midlands: Leicester (Leicestershire)
  • West Midlands: Birmingham (Warwickshire)
  • East: Ipswich (Suffolk), Dunstable (Bedfordshire), Cambridge (Cambridgeshire)
  • Greater London: Blackfriars, Ilford, Croydon (London), Slough (Berkshire)
  • Central South: Oxford*(Oxfordshire), Bournemouth (Dorset), Porchester (Hampshire)
  • South East: Burgess Hill (West Sussex)
  • West & South West: Bristol, Plymouth*, Exeter*, Redruth*(Cornwall), Yeovil (Somerset)
  • Wales: Bridgend (South-east Wales)
  • Northern Ireland: Lisburn*(Country Antrim)

Please ensure that you have checked suitable travel and accessibility arrangements before booking your test.

Re-scheduling or cancelling a test

The ECA can facilitate the re-scheduling or cancellation of bookings, if individuals comply to their terms and conditions. If you need to cancel or re-schedule a booking, the ECA can facilitate this, provided any change of testing date is proposed six working days prior to when your assessment is due to take place. This does not include the day of the assessment itself. So, in reality, ensure you leave a full week between flagging the change in circumstance and your test date.

In a situation where these terms are not met, then individuals who want to re-schedule can expect to also re-pay the full testing fee. No refund is given in any circumstance, whether that be to accommodate a re-scheduled or cancelled test.

It’s perhaps also worth noting, at this stage, that the ECA does not offer refunds due to extreme events that are deemed out outside of their control. This may include instances of adverse weather, such as flooding or other natural disaster, and if industrial strike action is in-play.

Closing remarks

Although the ECA will not be able to 100% guarantee a place at a specific venue on a particular day chosen, they do generally have good availability. Furthermore, as it is a reputable firm, you can be rest assured that they will make every effort to accommodate your request.

Once payment has been received and processed, you will be provided with a confirmation e-mail. This will detail the place, time and date of the assessment(s), a location map of the chosen venue, receipt of payment, and the full terms and conditions of the ECS Health & Safety Test.

If you have any further enquiries, or would like more information on the items outlined, you can contact the ECA via e-mail. Their general enquiry e-mail address for bookings is ecsadministration@ecseca.co.uk

Booking a test through JIB

As mentioned, candidates and employers can book a test directly through the Joint Industry Board (JIB). However, this process is usually preferred by those who require an ECS Card urgently. This is positioned as an instant service, whereby candidates can both sit their test and, if they so wish, apply to their Fast Track Card scheme. This means that individuals can gain their ECS card on the day of their assessment (dependent on acquiring the relevant pass mark of course!) For this process, candidates would need to travel to JIB’s central office in Swanley, Kent, and this will come at added expense.

The Joint Industry Board do offer an ‘in-company’ service for employers looking to mobilise multiple employees for testing purposes. Each candidate would still need to travel to Swanley, as per the instruction above.

To enquire about taking an ECS test directly through JIB, feel free to call them on the following contact number: 01322 661663.

Booking a test through Unite the Union

The booking process for candidates looking to potentially undertake the test with Unite the Union is similar to that of the ECA. For reference, Unite the Union is first and foremost a trade union, so therefore it looks to advance the rights, profile and skill sets of workers in a range of industries. Again, this is an extremely credible institution, so individuals should not fear pressing forward with them as their test provider.

To schedule a test, delegates and employers should reach out to one of the following e-mail addresses: ecs.neyh@unitetheunion.org, tracey.conboy@unitetheunion.org. If you’re a candidate based in London or the South East, individuals should direct their correspondence to pauline.timpson@unitetheunion.org. If based in this region, it’s worth noting that Unite the Union offer a Saturday testing option in Canary Wharf, London. This may help those who are looking to undertake the assessment whilst still involved with other work commitments.

Pauline Timpson and Tracey Conboy, who are the representatives highlighted in the e-mail addresses, can also be contacted via phone. Pauline Timpson is available on 07710 707776, and Tracey Conboy is contactable on 07900160851

The organisation provides a discounted assessment rate for its members. This means qualifying indivuals will only need to pay £42 (INC VAT), as opposed to the full £48 amount.

Re-scheduling or cancelling a test

Simlar to the Electrical Contractors Association rules and regulations, there are some stipulations around course re-scheduling and availability of refunds. Candidates are reminded that no refunds will be offered to those who book an incorrect test (unite the union offer many assessments – make sure you the select right one!), and any cancellations or re-scheduling requests must be permitted at least 72 hours in advance of your test day (therefore allowing slightly more grace time than the ECA provides). However, individuals are only permitted to re-schedule one test for free. Any re-arrangements thereafter would incur a £10 administration fee.

Considerations for all

There are some so far uncovered elements relevant to the ECS Test, which apply regardless of which test provider you’ve selected.

Revision Guides

Candidates are encouraged to consider revision materials and learning resources required prior to booking their test. The ECS offers an official ECS Test question and answer book, which is a highly recommended tool to support individuals to prepare for the assessment. This guide is available as either an electronic download, which is free of charge, or in hard copy format. For those keen to purchase a hard copy, which may include employers or convenors of teaching programmes, books are sold at £4.50 per unit. These books can be ordered directly through the ECS. The ECA does also offer this service, but will require candidates to pay at the same moment they book their test.

Industry guidance is that these revision guides are acquired at least ten days prior to the examination date. This should allow individuals to review the book’s content in enough detail to feel ready to tackle the assessment.

Coronavirus considerations

Candidates should also take time to digest any coronavirus associated measures that may be implemented at testing facilities. In the case of Unite the Union, the body has imposed strict regulations on those undertaking assessments. Indeed, delegates who arrive at one of their venues without a face mask or covering, may be refused entry. Please check the Unite the Union website for more details on their coronavirus policy, and what this might mean for you.

Possible exemption

Finally, its worth double-checking whether you’re exempt from having to take an ECS Test. This is unlikely, as those who do not require taking a further Health and Safety assessment will most likely already be aware, but please review just in case. The ECS test (and, by extension, the acquisition of an ECS Card), does not need to be undertaken if candidates have already shown the required Health & Safety proficiency level. This will have been achieved by acquiring a different, but still relevant, accredited certificate. The list of qualifying courses is available on the ECS website.

In Summary

Hopefully, the above information has provided a comprehensive guide to how to book your assessment. The aforementioned providers are all good, reputable organisations. Therefore, please don’t feel like you need to take too much time in researching their respective credentials.

Booking an ECS test should be a relatively simple process, which therefore allows candidates to place an appropriate investment of time into revising for the examination itself. The booking organisation should be contacted in cases where information is unclear, or further assistance is required. Of course, individuals can always refer back to a trained, industry professional for guidance and support.