Who Can Ask for Time Off to Train or Study
Despite being unpaid in most cases, to request time away from work for training or study while in a job, you must:
- Be classed as an employee under UK employment law.
- Have worked for the same employer for a period of at least twenty six (26) weeks.
- Train for something that helps you do your job better.
- Work for an organisation that employs at least 250 people.
Note: Another section explains how your employment status (e.g. employee, director, office holder) affects your employment rights and the responsibilities of employers in the workplace.
When You Can’t Ask for Time Off to Train
As a rule, employees will not be able to ask for time off work for training or for study, if they are a young person with the right to take paid time off, or you are:
- An agency worker.
- Of compulsory school age (called ‘school age’ if you live in Scotland).
- Between the age of 16 to 18 and already expected to participate in education or training.
- Serving in the armed forces.
How to Ask for Time Off
Most organisations set out their own rules about asking for time off work for training and study. Thus, employees should follow their employer’s particular requirements.
If not, you can write to your employer stating it as a request made ‘under Section 63D of the Employment Rights Act 1996’.
Your letter should include the date of the request, the subject matter of the training or study, along with:
- Who provides the training, where and when it will take place, and whether it will result in a qualification.
- Whether you made a request on a previous occasion and when you made it.
- Why you think this type of extra training or study will help you perform your job better and how it might benefit the business for your employer.
Important: Employees can make one (1) request a year. But, employers can refuse to consider the request for time off if any of the relevant information is missing.
If You Change Your Mind
Employees must notify their employer if they:
- Don’t start the agreed training or study (or fail to finish it).
- Do the planned course or intend to take part in a different course from the one agreed.
Decision and Employer Responsibilities
After receiving an employee request for time off for study or training, the employer would have twenty eight (28) days to (either):
- Set up and hold a meeting with the employee to discuss it.
- Accept the employee’s request for training and study at work.
Employees can choose to take a work colleague or a trade union representative to a meeting (or postpone it if their companion is unavailable).
But, employers must make a decision about the request within fourteen (14) days of holding any meeting. The exception would be if the employee agrees to extend the deadline (submitted in writing).
Note: Getting a response may take longer if the appropriate person for making the decision is absent from work at the time.
Employers can only turn down a request for training if:
- It isn’t going to benefit the business or it would incurr extra costs.
- Doing so would damage quality and business performance or it would conflict with planned structural changes.
- The business would struggle to meet customer demands.
- They are unable to re-organise the work among other staff members (or recruit extra staff).
- The business wouldn’t generate enough work for the employee to carry out during the time they intend to work.
Paying for Training or Study at Work
None of the UK employment rules and regulations force employers to pay employees when taking time off work for training or study. Nonetheless, many will make a contribution if they believe it will help their company.
Appealing Against a Decision
Employees can make an appeal if their employer refuses to grant their request to take time off for training or study. You must make the appeal within fourteen (14) days of getting a decision and:
- Submit the dated appeal in writing.
- Set out your grounds for appealing against the decision.
Employers have fourteen days to arrange a meeting to discuss the appeal with their employee. Following that, they have another fourteen days to give a written decision about the result of the appeal.
If the Problem Remains Unresolved
Employees can either raise a grievance at work or contact Acas (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) if the issue doesn’t get resolved.
If this fails, employees can make an employment tribunal claim (within three months) if the employer (either):
- Failed to follow the correct and legal procedure.
- Refused the request for time off based on incorrect facts.