Workers will have the right to ask their employer to pay for any external training under the new time off for training legislation, due to come into effect next week.
The Apprenticeship, Skills, Children and Learning Act, which becomes law on 6 April, provides employees with a statutory right to request time off for training.
The legislation, which initially covers organisations with more than 250 staff, provides a “statutory right to make a request in relation to study or training”, but does not prohibit staff making a request for their employer to fund a course – which could be undertaken outside of work hours – or to pay for support materials such as textbooks.
For more information about the statutory right to make a request for study and training, go to the XpertHR guides.
“It follows that a purely financial request – for example, for an employer to pay for an employee’s college fees or textbooks – will fall within the new statutory provisions, and (provided of course that the employee meets the qualifying criteria), the employer will be obliged to consider it.”
Read warned employers could face tribunal claims if they failed to fully consider a request – and possibly payouts of up to eight weeks’ pay. “Employers should be careful not to disregard requests out of hand just because they don’t refer to ‘time’ – or they could end up in a tribunal,” he said.
A spokeswoman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) confirmed: “If a request is for funding only, that can be considered and is within the scope of the legislation.”
“The employer is not obliged to agree to requests for training or funding if there is a good business reason for turning it down, but will be expected to consider all requests seriously.”
BIS said it planned to review the reasons available to employers for rejecting requests ahead of the legislation being extended to cover all firms in April 2011.