Employment: New legal right to request time off to train

January 3, 2010

The Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009 (the
“Act”), the main provisions of which come into force for businesses with
250 or more employees in April 2010, will give certain qualifying
employees the right to request time off from work to train or study. 
The new right aims to assist economic recovery by enhancing individuals’
skills and employability.  Employers who agree to requests are not
obliged to pay salary for or to meet the cost of any courses, although
some may wish to do so on a voluntary basis.

Qualifying employees and applicable procedure

The new right will allow a qualifying employee to request time off
to train or study to improve their work related skills and therefore the
performance of their employer’s business.  However, only employees with
more than 26 weeks’ continuous service can request time off and an
employee may only apply for time off once every 12 months.

The application procedure for the new scheme will be similar to that
for current flexible working applications.  Employers must seriously
consider all applications but may reject an application for specified
business reasons or where, in the employer’s view, the training would
not improve the employee’s effectiveness at work or the performance of
its business.  Those who qualify for the new right will be protected
from being subjected to detriment and/or dismissal following a request
for time off.

The Department for Business Innovation and Skills has issued
guidance notes on the new right for both employers and employees.  These
contain details of the new right, together with further information on
the qualifying criteria, the procedure and consequences of
non-compliance and the permissible grounds for rejecting applications
from employees for time off.

The Act will amend the Employment Rights Act 1996.  The new right
will apply initially only to organisations with 250 or more employees
from 6 April 2010 but will be extended to employees in all businesses
from 6 April 2011.

The regulations bringing the right to request time off into force
were put before Parliament on 4 February 2010 (see link in Resources


Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009

Guidance for
employers and employees on the right to time off to train

Direct Gov website

Employee Study and Training (Eligibility, Complaints and Remedies)
Regulations 2010

Employee Study and Training (Procedural Requirements) Regulations 2010

Employee Study and Training (Qualifying Period of Employment)
Regulations 2010

For further information or to discuss the
issues raised, please contact Colina Greenway (colina.greenway@abbisscadres.com)
on +44 (0) 203 051 5711.


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