Allowing time off work

Time off work for training and certain job-related duties and activities


Employees can have paid time off to:

  • receive training and/or look for a new job if being made redundant
  • receive training for certain job-related roles
  • carry out certain job-related duties

Young employees are entitled to paid time off for training if they meet specific criteria.

Basic training/continuing training for young workers

Employees aged 16 and 17 years old who did not reach a certain standard of education at school have the right to reasonable time off with pay while studying for a qualification that will help them reach that standard.

If they turn 18 years old while studying, they have the right to complete the course.

Time off for job-seeking/retraining in a redundancy situation

An employee with at least two years of continuous service who is being made redundant can take reasonable time off with pay to look for another job, or to arrange training. The employer does not have to pay more than two-fifths of a week's pay no matter how much time off they give the employee. For more information, see redundancy: the options.

Time off for carrying out duties for certain job-related roles

Employees have the right to paid time off to carry out:

Time off for trade union activities

You must give employees who are union representatives of an independent trade union recognised by the employer reasonable paid time off for carrying out union duties and for any training relating to their trade union duties.

Union duties are those matters covered by collective bargaining agreements between the employer and the trade union eg duties concerned with functions related to, or connected with, terms and conditions of employment, etc.

There is no statutory requirement to pay for time off where the duty is carried out at a time when the union representative would not otherwise have been at work, unless the union representative works flexible hours, such as night shift, but is required to perform representative duties during normal hours.

Union representatives and employees who are trade union members of an independent trade union recognised by the employer are entitled to reasonable unpaid time off for carrying out union activities. However, employers may consider payment in certain circumstances, for example, to ensure that workplace meetings are fully represented.

Union activities include:

  • voting in union elections
  • meeting full-time officials to discuss issues relevant to the workplace
  • attending workplace meetings to discuss and vote on the outcome of negotiations

Time off to accompany a colleague at a disciplinary, grievance, flexible working hearing

Workers - not just employees - have the right to paid time off to accompany a colleague who is:

  • the subject of a disciplinary hearing
  • attending a hearing relating to a grievance they have raised
  • attending a hearing relating to a flexible working request they have made