Why train?There are plenty of reasons why training is a worthwhile pursuit:
- It makes your employees feel valued, because you’re investing time and money into their careers
- It supports your business, giving you a well-trained and qualified workforce who know their jobs inside out
- It can also encourage the best employees to really shine, giving you the ‘managers of the future’
- In some instances, it is a requirement for the position.
What qualifies as training?The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 stipulates you must provide ‘…whatever information, instruction, training and supervision is necessary to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of your employees’. That could include everything from a quick training course on how to evacuate a building in case of fire, through to First Aider training for a member of your team. The Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999 identifies areas of training that are particularly important, such as during induction courses, or if employees are being asked to work in high-risk areas. The problem that employees often have is that there are not always clear guidelines laid down, and it can be difficult to determine what qualifies as appropriate training. If you’re in any doubt and questioning can an employee refuse training, a consultation with a HR expert would certainly help make things clearer.
Can I stipulate training requirements in their contract?Apart from mandatory CPD or qualification training that is required for an employee to hold a position such as a Gas Safe engineer or medical practitioner, training is generally arranged as and when the employer thinks it necessary. They can stipulate that certain training is part of the contractual agreement during normal working hours, but outside of that it’s difficult to insist that training be undertaken, even if that training is a really good idea. If an employee has issues with training (especially if the training happens outside their usual work hours) then a little bit of flexibility and compromise is always the best policy. Employers do have to consider the ongoing consequences of forcing training onto employees, especially if a worker has a problem attending external training due to child-care issues. In that instance, it’s up to the employer to provide training during normal working hours, or sit down with the employee and find a way forward that suits everyone. However, as an employer you are legally obliged to allow reasonable requests for training from your employees, as well as ongoing training for young employees. If you employ younger workers or apprentices, then they have the legal right (in prescribed circumstances) to have a reasonable amount of time away from their normal work environment to pursue their studies. That time off should be paid time, too, and is usually part of their training contract. Safety representatives, union officials and other workers who are performing a service as a trade union representative are also legally permitted (paid) time off for further training.
What next?Training should be accessible to all employees who want to take up the opportunity, regardless of any protected characteristic. There are certain stipulations, but if you’re asking ‘can an employee refuse training’ then the answer depends on their particular circumstances and general context, unless that training is industry-standard or required to enable a worker to become qualified to carry out their position, or is part of CPD. The offer of additional training can make employees feel valued, too, boosting team morale and improving performance.
Questions about employee training? Speak to our expert team on 03333215005 or send us an email