The law allows eligible employees to request time off work for study or training purposes. Do you know what the law says? Read our Q&A.

Who is eligible?

To be considered eligible to request time off work for study or training purposes. The individual must:

  • be an employee
  • have worked for their employer for a minimum of 26 weeks
  • have not made any requests in the last 12 months
  • work in a business with at least 250 people.

This does not extend to, for example, agency workers, self-employed or someone aged 16 to 18 who is expected to take part in education or training.

What type of training is covered?

Employees can request training or study that improves their effectiveness at work and the performance of their employer’s business.

Do I need to pay for this?

Employers are not legally required to pay for this training or study. However you may decide to pay the total or part of the fees if you believe that it will be of benefit to your business.

How many requests can an employee make?

They can make one request per year.

How can employees apply?

You may have specific rules which explain what the process is for employees to ask for time off.

If you have no rules in place, the employee should submit a request in writing which includes the following information:

  • the date
  • state that it is an application under section 63D of the Employment Rights Act 1996
  • give information about the training or study: subject matter, where and when it will take place, who will provide the training and if it leads to a qualification
  • if, and when, they have made a request in the past
  • how they think it will help improve their effectiveness in the job and the performance of the business.

How can an employer respond?

Once an application has been received, the employer has 28 days to either accept the employee’s request or meet with the employee to discuss the request. The employee may be accompanied to the meeting by a union representative or another colleague.

An employer does have the right to refuse a request. The law states that the permissible grounds for refusal are one or more of the following:

  • the study or training would not improve the employee’s effectiveness at work and performance of the employer’s business
  • it would generate extra costs for the business
  • it would have a negative effect on the business’s ability to meet customer demand
  • the work would not be able to be reorganised amongst existing members of staff
  • the employer would not be able to hire extra staff
  • it would have a harmful effect on the quality of performance
  • there would not be enough work during the periods the employee proposes to work
  • planned structural changes.

Can the employee appeal the decision?

Employees may decide to appeal this if you decide not to grant their request for leave. The appeal must be in writing, clearly dated and explain the grounds for the appeal.

The employer must meet the employee to discuss this appeal. They may decide to uphold the appeal or discuss it further with the employee. You must then give their final decision in writing.

See our other recent articles about employees taking time off:

If you would like more information about employees’ rights to time off, please contact your Employment Law Adviser for helpful and easy to follow advice and support.

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