Many public service workers in Wales and the rest of the UK are entitled to request time off to attend training under Section 63D of the Employment Rights Act 1996.
Training is a valuable activity and almost always benefits both you, your boss, your colleagues, the organisation you work for and the people you support in your job role. It helps you to improve your performance and progress in your career.
If you would like to attend a course during work time with an external learning provider (such as a local college, the Open University or Adult Learning Wales) or one that is funded or organised by UNISON, you should ask be released during work time to attend this and be paid for this time.
However, we understand that this is not always possible. If your employer does not agree to release you to attend, you may be able to use your workers right to request time off to train to get them to reconsider.
You have this right if you meet the following criteria.
- you must be classed as an employee
- you must have worked for their employer for at least 26 weeks
- training must help you to do your job better
- at least 250 people must work in the organisation that employs you
Unfortunately, you do not have this right if you are in one of the following groups:
- an agency worker
- in the armed forces
- of compulsory school age (‘school age’ in Scotland)
- a young person who’s already got the right to take paid time off for study or training
- aged 16 to 18 and already expected to take part in education or training
However, if you are a young worker between the age of 16 and 18 you may be been entitled to reasonable paid time off for study or training purposes.
Under the Right to Time Off for study or training
- If you are 16 or 17 and you left school or college with few, if any, qualifications, you are entitled to reasonable paid time off for study or training to get NVQ Level 2 or specified equivalents.
- If you are 18 and you have already begun your study or training with another employer and then have subsequently changed jobs, you will be entitled to complete your course or study before you reach the age of 19.
These rights apply if you are 16 or 17 years old and have not reached the prescribed standard of education or training for the role and are not receiving full time secondary or further education.
The regulations have put no figure on how much time off would be considered reasonable, but a government guide suggests that one day per week would be reasonable.
Asking for time off
You should follow your organisation’s rules to ask for time off to attend training. Your manager or HR department should be able to tell you what this process is.
If you are aged over 18 and there aren’t any rules, or you believe the rules are not being fairly applied, you can write to your employer saying it’s a request ‘under Section 63D of the Employment Rights Act 1996’ with the following details:
- the date
- the subject matter of the study or training
- where and when it would take place
- who’ll be providing the training
- the name of the qualification they could get – if any
- why they think this study or training will help them do their job better and help their employer’s business
- if they’ve made a request before and when
An employer does not have to consider the request if all this information is not included.
Here is some wording for you to use (do copy us into this request and we will support you to access the help of your union branch and/or ULR).
I have identified a training opportunity that would be of benefit to me and the organisation, and I hereby request under Section 63D of the Employment Rights Act 1996 that you consider this and respond to me with your reasons for approval or denial within 28 days of receipt of this email.
I would of course be willing to meet with you to discuss this matter.
Here are the details of the training as required by the Employment Rights Act 1996:
Date of Training: XXXXXXXXXXX
When and Where: XXXXXXXXXXXX
Training Provider: XXXXXXXXXXX
Qualification (if appropriate): XXXXXXXXXXX
Why this will help me to do my job better and/or improve the service: XXXXXXXXXXX
Previous Requests: XXXXXXXXXX
This course will be funded by UNISON Cymru Wales. Many thanks in advance for considering this request and I look forward to your response.
Here are some good reasons why training will help you to do your job better and/or improve the service your organisation provides:
- The training will make me better at my job
- The training will help me to go for a promotion
- The training will help to solve a problem we have at work or make a change we want
- The training will help us to improve the efficiency or effectiveness of the service overall
- The training will help the people we support
- The training will improve my mental or physical wellbeing
- I can pass on this new knowledge or skill to my colleagues
- There is funding available for me to do this course
Here are some resources that will help you make a case to your employer:
- Employer’s responsibility for your CPD for registration in health & social care – Social Care Wales
- Professional Learning Passport – Education Workforce Council for Wales
- Impact of literacy on workplace health and safety
- 16 Benefits of Training and Development – Forbes Magazine
- UNISON’s Skills for the Future Report – the biggest survey of public sector skills needs ever conducted in the UK
What happens next?
Your employer has to respond to you with reasons for within 28 days of the receipt of a valid request. They can request a meeting to discuss the request and you are entitled to bring a UNISON rep to this meeting to support you and advocate on your behalf.
Your employer can refuse your request, but only for the following reasons:
- the training would not benefit their business
- they would run up extra costs for the business
- they would not be able to meet customer demands
- they cannot re-organise the work among other members of staff
- they cannot recruit extra staff
- it would damage quality and business performance
- there would not be enough work for the employee to do at the times they intend to work
- it conflicts with planned structural changes
You can appeal your employers decision within 14 days, and can also access ACAS if you are still not satisfied with the outcome.
Ask your UNISON workplace rep or Union Learning Rep for help with this process. If you don’t know who this is, contact branch for help.
Alternatively, you can contact the UNISON Cymru Wales learning team.