Q: I currently have a job in an accounts department but I want to try and get some proper qualifications in accountancy. I have found a course but it is not local and so will require me having some time off work to do it. My employer, however, won't agree to that. Do I have any rights?
A: All employees, with the exception of certain groups such as agency workers, have the right to request unpaid time off from work for training purposes, provided they have worked continuously for 26 weeks for the firm to whom they are making the request.
You must make your request in writing, stating that: the application is being made under Section 63D of the Employment Rights Act 1996, the nature of the training, where and when it takes place, who is providing or supervising it and what if any qualification it leads to. You should also outline how you think the training will improve your effectiveness within the business and the performance of the business as a whole. There is no limit to the duration of the training and your request can cover more than one type of training, although only one application can be made in any 12 month period.
Your employer must accept your written request or arrange a meeting to discuss the request within 21 days of receiving it. Following discussion your employer can approve or refuse the request, but must give you a written decision within 14 days. A written approval must include certain details e.g. the type of training, whether it will be paid for. A written refusal must provide a right of appeal and state any statutory reasons for refusal, e.g. it will not improve your effectiveness.
It may be wise to ask a solicitor to review your draft application or comment on any decision.