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Time Off for Public Duties

In addition to their annual leave, employees are entitled to time off work (also known as leave) to fulfil certain public duties.

There is no obligation on employers to pay their employee for this time off, but you are free to choose to do so if you wish.

For what public duties are employees entitled to time off?

Employees must be allowed time off for jury service. They must also be given a reasonable amount of time off to attend to their duty as any of the following:

  • magistrate
  • local councillor
  • school governor
  • member of any statutory tribunal (e.g. employment tribunal)
  • member of the managing or governing body of an educational establishment
  • member of a health authority

How much time the employee gets off should be agreed by the employee and employer beforehand, and should be based on how long the duty is expected to take. You should also take into account the effect of the employee’s absence on your business and how much time they have had off for public duties in the past.

If you think the employee’s request for time off is unreasonable then you can turn it down.

Eligibility

Certain categories of employee are not eligible for time off for public duties. These are:

  • agency workers
  • members of the police service or armed forces
  • workers employed on a fishing vessel or a gas or oil rig at sea
  • merchant seamen
  • civil servants, if their public duties are connected to political activities restricted under their terms of their employment

Time off for study or training

Employees may request time off work to undertake study or training to enable them to carry out their role more efficiently.

An employee can request time off for study or training if:

  • they are classed as an employee
  • the training helps them do their job better
  • they have worked for you for at least 26 weeks
  • at least 250 people work in the organisation

Time off for training is usually unpaid, but you can pay your employee if you wish.

Eligibility

Employees cannot ask for leave for study or training if they are:

  • an agency worker
  • in the armed forces
  • of compulsory school age
  • a young person who’s already got the right to take paid time off for study or training
  • 16-18 and already expected to take part in education or training

Requests for time off for study or training

Your organisation should have rules which dictate how an employee should make a request for time off for study or training. If not, they can do so by making a request under Section 63D of the Employment Rights Act 1996. You will need to consider this request if they include the following details:

  • an explanation that you are asking for time off for training under Section 63D of the Employment Rights Act 1996
  • what the training is about
  • the time and location that the course is scheduled to take place
  • any qualifications they might get if they complete the training
  • the name of the course provider
  • a description of why they think the training would make them more proficient at their job and the benefit it would have to the business
  • details of any previous requests they’ve made regarding time off for training

The employer’s decision

After you receive a request for time off for study or training, you must either accept it or hold a meeting with your employee to discuss it within 28 days.

If you hold a meeting you must make a decision within 14 days of the meeting taking place, unless your employee agrees in writing to this being extended.

You can only turn down the request if you have a good business reason for doing so, such as if you need the worker to be present at a busy time.

Appeals

Your employee is entitled to appeal against your decision if you decide to turn down their request for leave for study or training. They must lodge their appeal within 14 days of you making your decision. This should set out their reasons for appeal in writing, and be dated.


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