What is the right?
- From 6 April 2010 a new right for employees to request time off work for study or training will come into force. It will initially apply to businesses with 250 or more employees and will be extended to all employers, regardless of size, from April 2011.
Who is eligible?
- Only employees with more than 26 weeks’ service with your business will be entitled to make a request for time off under the new regime.
- The training or study applied for must be for the purpose of improving your employee’s effectiveness at work and also improve the performance of your business.
- It does not have to lead to a formal qualification (for example, it could simply be training on a new piece of software or equipment).
- The right will not apply to agency workers, school-age children or young employees who qualify for a separate right to time off for training.
How does it work?
- An employee may only make one application for time off for training in any 12-month period.
- Their application must be in writing and include details of the training they want to undertake.
- You must consider all requests seriously.
The procedure that you must follow once you receive a request closely mirrors the procedure for dealing with a flexible working request:
- You must hold a meeting with the employee to discuss their application within 28 days of receiving it.
- You must give your employee a written, dated notice of your decision within 14 days of the meeting.
For further information on the application procedure please contact [name and e-mail address].
What are the grounds for refusing a request to take time off for training?
- You will only be able to decline a request if you have a sound business reason for doing so (for example, the training will have an effect on your company’s ability to meet customer demand). Please contact [name and e-mail address] for details of the specific grounds of refusal.
- You will also be able to turn down requests where you do not believe that the training your employee has requested will help you improve the performance of your business.
The right to appeal
- An employee has the right to appeal your decision. The appeal must be in writing, set out the grounds on which they wish to appeal and be submitted within 14 days of your initial decision.
- You have 14 days to either uphold the appeal and notify your employee or hold a further meeting with them to discuss the appeal.
For further information on the appeals process procedure please contact [name and e-mail address].
How much time can be taken off?
- You may grant all, part of or none of the time off that is requested by your employee.
- There is no right to payment, even if the request for time off is granted.
On what grounds could an employee bring a tribunal claim against my business?
- You fail to hold a meeting with them within 28 days of receiving their application, or within 14 days of their notice of appeal against an initial decision.
- You fail to notify them of your decision within 14 days of the initial meeting to discuss their application, or within 14 days of an appeal meeting.
- You refuse their application, in full or in part, for a reason other than one or more of the permissible grounds for refusal, and fail to correct the decision on appeal.
- You made the decision to refuse all or part of their application on incorrect facts and fail to correct the error on appeal.
- You fail to allow them to be accompanied by a colleague of their choosing at a meeting, fail to allow their colleague to address the meeting, or confer with them during the meeting, or fail to postpone a meeting under the procedure because the employee’s chosen companion is unavailable.
What are the penalties for failing to deal with the request adequately?
- An employment 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 you may be ordered to reconsider the application.
If you require further information on the content of this checklist please contact Alistair Wells or Rajan Berry.
The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.