Do you have to pay employees for training?

Legally, you do not have to pay employees if they request time off for training or study that isn’t required for them to carry out their job.

However, if you, the employer, request that an employee undertakes training that’s required for their job, then this should be paid – even if the training takes place outside of the employee’s normal work hours.

Using the care sector as an example, all employees must hold or be working towards the Care Certificate. So, employees should be paid for any time that’s taken to undertake this. This approach applies to all mandatory/statutory training requirements.

If you do

If you do decide to pay an employee for time off for training that’s not required for their job, bear in mind that you may be setting a precedent. This means that if, for example, you pay one employee for time off and don’t pay another (for training that would equally benefit their jobs), you could open yourself up to discrimination claims.

Furthermore, treating employees differently can also undermine your employee engagement, which can adversely affect your business’ overarching culture.

To avoid this, it’s incredibly important to be fair and consistent when deciding whether or not to pay employees for time taken off for training.

If you don’t

If an employee requests time off work for training – that’s beneficial for their job but not required – and you choose not to pay them, although you’d be within your rights, consider the impact.

Losing out on pay could act as a deterrent for employees, which means you and your business could miss out on the benefits that said training could provide.

Who can and can’t ask

Below are set criteria which broadly determine which employees can and can’t ask for time off for training – with or without pay.

Who can askWho can’t ask
Individuals who are classed as an employeeAgency workers
Employees who have been with you for at least 26 weeksPeople in the armed forces
Employees who can demonstrate that training will benefit their jobPeople who are of compulsory school age
Employees who work for a business that employees at least 250 people.Young employees who already have the right to take paid time off for study or training
Employees aged between 16 and 18 and are already expected to partake in training or education
Employee shareholders.

At your discretion, you can choose to revoke the principles set out above. So, for example, if you have less than 250 employees on your books and an individual asks for time off for training, you can indeed accept their request.

Similarly, should you feel inclined to do so, you could grant an employee time off for training that doesn’t directly benefit their job.

However, if you do, do this, it’s imperative that you’re consistent with your decisions. If you allow one person to take time off for non-work related training and not another, for example, you could open yourself up to allegations of discrimination.

Coming to a decision

Once you’ve received an application for time off for training, you have 28 days to either accept the request or hold a meeting to discuss it.

Employees are entitled to bring a colleague to the meeting. If their companion isn’t able to make the date set, they can ask to postpone the meeting.

If you decide to hold a meeting to discuss the employee’s request, after the meeting has finished, you must write to the employee with your decision within 14 days of the meeting – unless the employee agrees to extend this timeframe in writing.

Rejecting a request

If an eligible employee requests time off for training (as per the criteria set out in the above table), there are 10 statutory grounds that would allow you to turn it down:

  • The proposed training would not improve the employee’s effectiveness in the business
  • The proposed training would not improve the business’ performance
  • The burden of additional costs would be too great for your business
  • The time off would result in your business being unable to meet customer demands
  • You’re unable to re-organise the employee’s workload among colleagues
  • You’re unable to recruit extra employees to meet the demands of the business
  • If your business’ quality would deteriorate
  • If your business’ performance would deteriorate
  • The training conflicts with planned structural changes
  • You’re unable to supply the employee with sufficient work during the time(s) they intend to work.

The appeals process

If you reject an employee’s request for time off for training and they disagree, they can appeal your decision. The appeal must be lodged within 14 days of the decision, be in writing, be dated and set out their grounds for appeal.

If you receive an appeal, you have 14 days from the date of receipt to hold an appeal meeting. After the appeal meeting has been held, you have a further 14 days to write to the employee with your decision as to whether or not you uphold your original verdict.

If, after the appeal meeting decision, the employee still isn’t satisfied, and you:

  • Didn’t follow the procedure properly; or
  • Made a decision to turn down their request based on incorrect facts

They could go to an Employment Tribunal as a last resort. They have three months from the date of the appeal decision to go down this path.

Need a hand?

The world of Employment Law can be daunting – we get that. From reaching fair decisions, discrimination claims and appeal processes, there’s a lot to get your head around. And with potentially costly consequences if you get it wrong, it’s only natural you want to get it right first time, every time.

Here at Citation, our Employment Law experts are here to do just that. We’ll keep you and your business on the right side of the law 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Get in touch on 0345 844 1111 or hello@citation.co.uk to see how teaming up with us could benefit your business.

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