Training and study at work: your rights


Asking for time off

Employees should follow their organisation’s rules to ask for time off. If there aren’t any they can write to their 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 doesn’t have to consider the request if all this information isn’t included.

Employees can only make 1 request a year.

Employer’s decision and responsibilities

The employer has 28 days to:

  • accept the request
  • hold a meeting with the employee to discuss it

This might be longer if the person who deals with these requests is off when the request is sent in.

The employee can take a trade union representative or colleague to the meeting. They can ask for the meeting to be postponed if this person can’t make it.

If the employer decides to hold a meeting about it they must make a decision within 14 days of it, unless the employee agrees in writing to extend this time.

Turning down the request

The employer can only turn down a request if:

  • the training wouldn’t benefit their business
  • they would run up extra costs for the business
  • they wouldn’t be able to meet customer demands
  • they can’t re-organise the work among other members of staff
  • they can’t recruit extra staff
  • it would damage quality and business performance
  • there wouldn’t be enough work for the employee to do at the times they intend to work
  • it conflicts with planned structural changes

Paying for the training

The employer doesn’t have to pay for the training or study. They can choose to pay all or part of the fees if they think it will benefit the business.

Who can and can’t ask for time off to train

Staff may have the right to ask for time off work for training or study.

To ask for training or study:

  • staff must be classed as an employee
  • they must have worked for their employer for at least 26 weeks
  • training must help staff do their job better
  • at least 250 people must work in the organisation

Time off is usually unpaid unless the employer agrees to pay it.

Check someone’s employment status.

Who can’t ask for time off to train

Staff can’t ask for time off for training or study if they’re:

  • 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



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