Do young people have the right to time off work for education or training?

Under s.63A of the Employment Rights Act 1996, young people aged 16 or 17 (and also 18-year-olds who began their studies or training before reaching 18) who have left full-time education without attaining a prescribed "standard of achievement" have the legal right to paid time off work to acquire a "relevant academic or vocational qualification". The required standard of achievement is, for example, grades A to C (or 4 to 9 under the new grading system) in five GCSE subjects; SQA standard grades at grades 1 to 3 in three subjects; or one Intermediate level GNVQ.

However, this right is overridden by a duty on certain young people to participate in education and training introduced by provisions in the Education and Skills Act 2008. The duty applies to young people in England who have not attained a level 3 qualification and who are under age 18. Where this duty applies, the right to time off work under the Employment Rights Act 1996 does not apply. Young people in Scotland and Wales continue to have the right to time off work under s.63A.

The Education and Skills Act 2008 includes provisions requiring employers to accommodate young workers' arrangements for participation in education or training. However, these requirements have not been brought into force. Therefore, young people in England who are covered by the duty to participate in education or training do not have the right to time off for this purpose.