A new right has recently been introduced and phased in for employees to request time off to undertake study or training. This is an update to The Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009.
It applies to employees with 26 weeks' service or more and employers will be required to give serious consideration to all requests. This right was available from 6th April 2010 to employees in organisations with 250 or more employees before being extended to all employees from April 2011.
The Act provides employees with a new statutory right to apply for time off to undertake study or training. If you already have a system as an employer for making training requests you can continue to use that though you should make yourself aware of the right to request ‘time to train’ so that you know how a request can be made and what steps you need to take as an employer.
Under the 'time to train' right, employees can request training leading to a qualification and or training to help develop skills relevant to their job, workplace or business. There is no time limit for the length of time that the study or training may take. An employee needs to make sure that the training they want to request will help improve business performance and effectiveness in the employer’s business. They will need to put their training request in writing to their employer, giving as much detail as possible and including the start and duration dates of the training. Normally an employer will only have to consider one request from an employee in any 12 month period.
An employer is not expected to pay employees during their time off for training, nor is the employer expected to bear the costs of the training, though they may choose to do so if the training directly benefits the business.
An employer can refuse an application. However, this needs to be on restricted grounds, such as the inability to reorganise the work force or that the proposed study would not improve the employee’s effectiveness or performance with the employer.
If an employer unreasonably refuses a request for time off to train, the employee will have a right to bring a claim in the Employment Tribunal.
You can find out more about the right to request ‘time to train’ on the Direct.gov.uk website.