If you have worked continuously for at least six months in an organisation with 250 or more employees, and are aged 18 or over, you have the right to ask for time off for study or training.
If your employer turns down your request, you must wait at least 12 months before making another.
How you ask for time off, and how your employer should respond, are contained in the Employee Study and Training (Procedural Requirements) Regulations 2010. You must tell your employer in writing that you are applying under section 63D of the ERA 96 to take time off to study or train.
You should set out what the study or training is, where and when it will be held, and who will provide or supervise it. You should also include what qualification you will gain at the end of it, how it will make you more effective at work and how it will improve the performance of the business.
Your employer must arrange a meeting with you within 28 days of receiving your request. When you attend, you may be accompanied by a workplace colleague. They are entitled to paid time off to come with you. After you discuss your request, the onus is on your employer to consider it seriously. The employer may reject your request on these grounds (Law at Work 2020, pp 141-142):
- the training would not improve your effectiveness in, or the performance of, your employer's business;
- costs to the employer;
- detrimental impact on quality, performance or ability to meet customer demand;
- inability to reorganise work among existing staff or to recruit extra staff;
- reduced workload in the periods when the employee is still available;
- a planned reorganisation.
Your employer has 14 days to tell you their decision. If you are unhappy with it, you may appeal. Your employer must arrange an appeal hearing, and give you a decision within 14 days of that.
Union reps have a right to reasonable paid time off to carry out union duties and undertake training.
ACAS: Code of Practice on time off for trade union duties and activities including guidance on time off for union learning representatives
This code revises the Acas Code of Practice on time off for trade union duties and activities which came into effect on 27 April 2003.