Time off for training or studying Part 2
Last time, we looked at how an employer can maximise the potential of their staff by making it easy for them to access training and/or studying if they need new skills and competencies.
This time, we look at the mechanics of applications for training and what employers should do if they receive one.
An employee is entitled to be accompanied at such a meeting by a work colleague. The companion can address the meeting and confer with the employee, but may not answer questions independently of the employee. The meeting should take place at a time and location that is convenient to both employer and employee.
If the employee’s companion is unable to attend the meeting, the employee can request it to be rearranged at a mutually convenient time for all attendees, which should be no later than seven days after the date originally proposed for the meeting.
The employer is entitled to regard an employee’s request as withdrawn if the person fails to attend two meetings to discuss their request or appeal without reasonable cause. However, in practice, employers should always be wary about doing this and give employees every reasonable opportunity to attend the meeting.
In accepting a request to allow training, the employer should write to the employee confirming the agreement, specifying:
whether there will be any changes to the employee’s working hours,
whether the employer is paying for the course and
whether the employee will be paid whilst undergoing training.
If an employee’s request is refused, the employer must write to them identifying the grounds for refusal, explaining why the grounds apply in the circumstances and, where applicable, confirm the internal appeal procedures.
The employer may refuse all or part of an employee’s request for time to study or undertake training on one or more of the following grounds:
It would not improve the employee’s effectiveness in the business
The burden of the additional costs would be too high
It will have a detrimental effect on the organisation’s ability to meet customer demand
It will have a detrimental effect on quality and performance
Work cannot be reorganised amongst existing staff
Additional staff cannot be recruited
There are planned structural changes during the proposed study or training period
An employee can appeal against a refusal within 14 days of receipt of the rejection letter and employers are required to respond within the same timescale. The response is likely to be whether the appeal has been successful or whether a meeting will be held to discuss the appeal.
Within 14 days of the appeal hearing being held, the employer should write to the employee advising the outcome of the appeal. By agreement between both parties, timescales can be extended.
Employers should make employees aware that in allowing them to participate in any training, should they fail to attend or complete this, they will be required to advise the employer of the reason. It would also be worthwhile making an arrangement with the College/Training Provider that should there be any issues of non-attendance or lack of required study/production of assignments, the employer is advised. The employee should be made aware that this will form part of their overall permission to attend the training.
Employees can make a complaint to an Employment Tribunal if an employer fails to carry out the correct procedure and hold a meeting to discuss their request.