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How to respond to a request for time off for training

31 May 2018
In certain circumstances, employees are able to take time off for training. The guidance below sets out who is eligible to make a request, how much time can be taken and how an application should be made. Who is eligible? To be eligible to make a request for time off, the individual must meet the following criteria:
  • They must be an employee
  • They must work for an employer with 250 or more employees
  • They must have worked for the employer for at least 26 weeks
  • They must be over the age of 18 (there are separate rules which apply to those aged 16-18 in full time education)
Is there a right to payment? There is no right to payment, even if the request for time off is granted. However, regulation 19 of the National Minimum Wage Regulations 2015 (SI 2015/621) confirms time spent carrying out training "approved by the employer" during normal working hours counts as working time for national minimum wage (NMW) purposes. In practice, those whose hourly pay is at or close to NMW are likely to have a right to "extra" pay for time spent training, to ensure that their total pay for the pay reference period is at least meeting the NMW. How much time off can be taken? As there is no statutory right to have the request granted, the amount of time allowed off is at the employer’s discretion. The employer can choose to grant all, part or none of the time off requested, as long as they follow the correct procedure. Does the employer have any discretion as to how or when time may be taken? Employers are required to consider all requests seriously. They may only refuse a request if they think that one of a number of specified business reasons apply as set out in section 63F(7) of the ERA 1996  These include
  • the cost burden
  • inability to reallocate work
  • effect on ability to meet customer demand
  • the employer's belief that the training would not improve employee effectiveness or business performance.
Keep an eye out for the second part of this series for information on how an employee should apply and how this application should be dealt with...

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