From 6 April this year, employees working for companies with more than 250 employees can request time off work to train or study. These new rules will apply to all companies in 2011.
The new rules – The Employee Study and Training Regulations 2010 – allow employees the right to request time off work to undergo training or to study and to have their request properly considered in line with a statutory procedure.
The rules do not give an absolute right to take time off for training, merely the right to request it and have that request properly considered and in the event a request is granted, there is no requirement for employers to pay employees during the time off or to pay for the training.
To be eligible to make a request, employees need to have 26 weeks of continuous service with you and their request must contain specific information including:
• Details of the training or study they wish to undertake
• Where and when the training will be
• Who is going to provide or supervise it
• What qualification (if any) would be achieved.
Although the study does not have to lead to a qualification, it does need to improve the employee’s effectiveness at work and benefit the company in some way. As such, a request that is for training that does not lead to a qualification needs to explain how the company will benefit.
An employee can only make one request every 12 months, whatever the outcome of the request. Once a request has been received there is then a fairly strict procedure that you need to follow, as set out below:
1) Within 28 days you need to meet your employee to discuss their request;
2) Within the next 14 days you need to advise the employee of your decision, in writing;
3) If you are able to grant the request you need to set out in writing:
• what has been agreed including what is being studied,
• where and when it will take place, and
• any arrangements you have made with regard to paying the employee and/or paying for their training.
4) If you are not able to grant the request you need to set out in writing:
• The business case for the refusal (such as additional costs to cover the employee’s absence) and
• Why it applies in these circumstances.
5) If the employee is unhappy with your decision, they can submit an appeal within 14 days.
Failing to follow the correct procedure (as set out above) can entitle the employee to bring a claim in an Employment Tribunal. The Tribunal may then order you to consider the request again using the correct procedure or can make an award of up to 8 weeks’ pay (capped at the statutory limit, currently £380).