Surprisingly little publicity seems to have been given to the new Government legislation which gives all employees a statutory right to request training from their employers. With effect from April 6 this year, employers with 250 or more employees have to “seriously” consider an eligible employee's formal request for time away from their normal duties to undertake any training they think will improve their own and/or their employer’s performance.
What training can I request?

Any kind – so long as it is relevant to your job. It can be accredited (leading to a qualification) or unaccredited; it can be delivered in a special training centre, at you place of work or, indeed, anywhere else.

How many days or training can I request?

There is no limit to the number of days you can request – although clearly, if your request an unreasonable number of days your employer will have trouble in meeting your request.

Does my employer have to pay for my training?

No. Indeed your employer does not even have to pay you for the time you take away from your workplace. However, enlightened employers will usually make a contribution – even if they don’t pay the entire costs.

Is my employer bound by Law to accept my request?

No – but your employer is bound, within 28 days of having received your request, to

  • grant your request and inform you of the decision in writing or
  • meet with you to discuss your request - and within 14 days of that meeting, inform you of the decision in writing. If necessary, your employer can request further details about the training you want to undertake.

What if my employer doesn’t want to grant my request for training?

Employers can only refuse properly put training requests for a specific set of business reasons – and simply not wanting to let you undertake the training would not be good enough reason. An example of a good business reason for refusal might be that your employer could see no way in which the training would help the firm, or improve your own ability to do your job. For example, if you wanted to undertake football training or dancing lessons, you would be unlikely to have that request accepted unless you could prove that, by taking this training, you would be better at your job.

You employer does have the right to ask that you modify your training request. For example, you might have requested a one-week classroom-based course and your employer might suggest that it would be better were you to take a distance-learning course with one or two classroom days.

My agency is in Scotland – does this new Law apply to me?

Yes. The Law applies in England, Scotland and Wales. It does not, though, presently apply in Northern Ireland.

There are only ten of us working in my agency – including the boss. Does that mean I miss out?

Only temporarily. The Law will apply to ALL businesses, regardless of size, from 06 April 2011. So you don’t have too long to wait and, of course, since employers will appreciate that their staff will have the statutory right to request training before too much longer, your own employer will probably accept any training request from you right now.

Sounds great – so how do I go about it?

To make a request for training time you need to follow a set procedure. You must:

  • Tell your employer that your request is an “application under section 63D Em ployment Rights Act 1996”.
  • Give details of the subject matter of the training or study.
  • Give details of where and when the training or study would take place.
  • Say who would provide or supervise the training.
  • Say what qualification it would lead to (if any).
  • Tell your employer how you think the training or study would improve your effectiveness in your work and the performance of your employer’s business.
  • Date your application
  • Give the date and method (for example, by email or letter) that your previous application for training time (if any)was submitted.
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