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How to respond to a request for time off for training – Part 2

11th Jun 2018

Further to our first update we will now look at how an application for time off for training should be made, and how you should respond to it. We will also consider the potential repercussions for failing to respond in the correct way.

How is an application made?

If an employee wishes to take time off for training, then they should make an application in writing. This application should set out the following information:

  • The subject matter of the training.
  • Where and when it would take place and who would provide or supervise it.
  • What qualification (if any) it would lead to.
  • How the employee thinks the study or training would improve both the employee’s effectiveness in the employer’s business, and the performance of the employer’s business.
  • The date on which the employee made any previous application and how that application was made.

How to respond?

After receiving a formal application, the employer should then hold a meeting within 28 days of receiving it to discuss this with the employee.  The employee must be offered the right to be accompanied by a colleague or a union representative.

Confirming the outcome

Following this meeting, the employer should notify the employee of the outcome within 14 days.

If the application is accepted then the employer should confirm:

  • The subject of the study or training and where and when it will take place.
  • Who will provide or supervise it and what qualification it will lead to.
  • Whether the employee will be paid for the time spent studying or training.
  • Whether any changes will be made to the employee’s working hours to accommodate the study or training.
  • How the training costs will be met.

If rejecting the application, the employer should confirm in writing  and in sufficient detail hich of the grounds for refusal set out in section 63F(7) of the ERA 1996 apply. By way of remainder these are:

  • the cost burden
  • the inability to reallocate work
  • the effect on ability to meet customer demand
  • the employer’s belief that the training would not improve employee effectiveness or business performance.

If rejecting an application, the employee must be given the right to appeal. In your response, the appeal procedure to be followed should also be confirmed.

Appeal Process

If the employee wishes to appeal, the following procedure should be followed:

  • They must, within 14 days of the employer’s decision, submit a written, dated appeal to the employer setting out the grounds on which they wish to appeal
  • The employer then has 14 days to either uphold the appeal and notify the employee in writing of this, or hold a further meeting with the employee to discuss the appeal
  • Within 14 days of the appeal meeting, the employer must notify the employee in writing of their decision

What are the remedies for breach?

Employees have a right to bring a tribunal claim if the employer:

  • Fails to hold a meeting with them within 28 days of receiving their application, or within 14 days of their notice to appeal against an initial decision;
  • Fails to notify them of their decision within 14 days of the initial meeting to discuss their application, or within 14 days of an appeal meeting;
  • Refuses the application, in full or in part, for a reason other than one or more of the permissible grounds for refusal set out in section 63F(7) of the ERA 1996 and fails to correct the decision on appeal;
  • Has made the decision to refuse all or part of their application on incorrect facts and fails to correct the error on appeal; or
  • Fails to allow them to be accompanied by a colleague of their choosing to any meeting under the procedure, fails to allow their colleague to address the meeting, or confer with them during the meeting, or fails to postpone a meeting under the procedure because the chosen companion is unavailable (regulation 17(1), Procedural Regulations).

The employee has to make an application to the tribunal within three months of the date of the employer’s breach or the date the employee is notified of the appeal decision, as applicable.

The tribunal may award compensation of up to eight weeks’ pay (or up to two weeks’ pay for a breach of the right to be accompanied provisions) and/or order the employer to reconsider the application.

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