New rights to request time off for training

Added On: 13th April 2010

New rights to request time off for training

This new right only currently applies to businesses with 250 or more employees but will be extended to all businesses from 6 April 2011.

The legislation does not provide employees with a legal right to time off for training, but simply a right to request this coupled with an obligation for employers to give the application proper consideration. The new process closely follows the procedure used for requesting flexible working arrangements.

Only employees with 26 weeks' or more continuous service are entitled to apply and the training or study must be for the purpose of improving the effectiveness of the employee and the performance of the employer's business.

Employees can generally make only one request in any 12 month period, however, there is no limit on the length of time off that can be requested. There is no right to pay during any time off, nor does the employer have to meet the training costs.

Employers can turn down requests but only when they have a 'good business reason' to do so, which are prescribed by the legislation. These include where the training would not improve the employee's effectiveness or the performance of the business, or where there is an inability to reallocate work.

The procedure set out in the ERA must be followed. If an employer does not follow the correct procedure, or if the employer’s decision to reject an application is based on incorrect facts, the employee has a right to bring a claim in the employment tribunal. The new sections of the ERA also confer protection from detriment for making an application and make it automatically unfair to dismiss an employee because an application has been made.

Employers should consider introducing a procedure for making a request and to explain how decisions will be made. This will help you to respond effectively to any requrests rather than being on the back foot and dealing reactively.

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