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Time off work for training

Most employees have the right to ask for time off to carry out training that will improve their performance at work. Employers don't have to pay for the training or study, however, some employers will pay all or part of the fees if they think it will benefit the business.

Key points

  • Employees must have worked for their employer for at least 26 weeks.
  • Any training must help employees in their job.
  • The organisation must have at least 250 people working for them for employees to have the right to request time off for training.
  • Time off is usually unpaid unless the employer is willing to pay.

Requesting time off

Employees who have worked for their employer for at least 26 weeks can request to undertake training that leads to a qualification or will help them develop skills relevant to their work, workplace or business.

Those who are unable to request time off include:

  • agency workers
  • members of the armed forces
  • a 16-18 year old who is already expected to take part in education or training.

Employees who wish to request time off for work can make one written request a year, and should follow the organisations rules on how to apply. If the organisation doesn't have any rules employees should apply in writing stating it is a request for time off for training. The written request should include information such as:

  • the date of the request
  • the subject of the qualification (if any) the employee will gain
  • if they have made a request before and if so when it was made
  • how the training / study will help them do their job better and help their employer's business.

The employer will have 28 days from receiving the request for time off to accept the request and inform the employee of the decision in writing, or meet with the employee to discuss it. If the employer decides to hold a meeting about it a decision must be made within 14 days of it unless the employee agrees in writing to extend this time. The employee can take a work colleague or trade union representative to meeting with them.

Refusing time off and the right to appeal the decision

The employer can refuse a request if for example:

  • the training wouldn't benefit the business
  • they wouldn't be able to meet customer demands
  • the additional cost to the business
  • they are unable to re-organise the work among other employees.

Employees have the right to appeal if the employer refuses the request for time off for training or study. The appeal should be made within 14 days of the employer's decision. The appeal must be in writing, dated and give the reason for the appeal.

The employer will need to arrange a meeting with the employee to discuss the appeal within 14 days of receipt of the appeal, the employer then has 14 days in which to make a decision and give it in writing to the employee.