Requesting 'time to train': employee rights
Most employees interested in further training and developments have legal rights to request time off for training or study, known as "time to train".
Under the "time to train" right, workers can request leave to undertake training leading to a qualification, courses to develop practical skills relevant to their industry, or training in a different area to boost career progression in their jobs.
The right is enshrined in law as part of section 63D of the Employment Rights Act 1996.
For the training or study to be eligible for leave under legal rights, it must help workers to improve business performance and increase their effectiveness within the workplace.
There is no set time limit for study or training periods, but the relevance of the course undertaken is important.
Employees have several different options when undertaking a course or learning new skills.
Workers may choose to study at home, via e-learning, or partake in on-the-job training.
Colleges and other learning providers could be a suitable base for further development.
To be able to qualify to the right to request "time to train", workers must have worked for their current employer continuously for a minimum of 26 weeks.
In addition, the statutory right only applies to organisations with 250 or more employees overall.
Not all employees have the right to request leave – members of the armed forces, agency workers, and people of compulsory school age are exempt.
Employees should take the time to think carefully about the training they need, how best to develop new skills, and how it will benefit their efficiency within the workplace.
For college courses with set enrolment dates, requests should be made well in advance in order to make time for discussions with employers about whether the request will be granted.
Although employees have the right to request leave for study, existing arrangements regarding payment during training or the cost of course fees must be upheld.
Employers are required to consider one request in any 12 month period – additional requests in the same time frame may not require discussion.
To apply for "time to train", employees must submit a dated, written request – electronically or via a hard copy.
The letter must refer to Section 63D of the Employment Rights Act 1996, detail the subject matter of the study or training, and where and when it would take place.
In addition, details of the training provider or supervisor the name of the resulting qualification (if applicable) must be included.
Employees should explain how the course or training scheme will make them more effective within their job role, and any previous requests made for "time to train" should be mentioned.
For a request to be considered, all of the above information must be included. Information regarding costs associated with the training, such as course fees, is also useful to employers.
Organisations have certain responsibilities when it comes to considering submitted requests – within 28 days of receipt employers must accept the request and say so in writing, or arrange a meeting to discuss it.
Following a discussion, employers must inform applicants of their final decision within 14 days.
The Open University offers a wide range of courses that could help workers secure employment opportunities.
More information about “time to train” and employee rights can be found on the Direct.gov website.