This year has seen the introduction of a new right for employees to request time off for training, pursuant to section 40 of the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009, which applies to employers with 250 or more employees.
Where a ‘qualifying employee’ (as defined below) has made an application for unpaid time off work in order to undertake training or study, the Employment Tribunal will look to see whether the employer has seriously considered a request and genuinely enquired into the feasibility of accommodating it. In other words, it will not be sufficient that the employer has simply assumed that the employee’s request would not ‘work out’.
To the contrary, as with the request for flexible working, any refusal must be based on one or more of the permissible grounds, such as the burden of additional costs or detrimental impact on quality or performance.
However, in order to be a ‘qualifying employee’, the employee must show that the purpose of the training or study is to improve the employee’s effectiveness in the employer’s business and the performance of that business. This will go some way in reassuring the employer that allowing an employee time off under the new law would hopefully serve as an investment.
Furthermore, where the employer does choose to refuse a request, the employee may only challenge this in an employment tribunal if he can show that the employer did not follow the proper procedure or base the refusal on an impermissible reason or incorrect facts.
Contact us to find out more – we are always happy to answer your questions!