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 ask||Who can’t ask|
|Individuals who are classed as an employee||Agency workers|
|Employees who have been with you for at least 26 weeks||People in the armed forces|
|Employees who can demonstrate that training will benefit their job||People 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|
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 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:
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.
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