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Time off work

Updating author: Nicky Stibbs

Summary

  • Employees (and, in some situations, workers) have the legal right to be permitted a reasonable amount of paid or unpaid time off work to enable them to carry out their official functions or for other designated purposes (see Overview).
  • Employees who are employed by an employer with at least 250 employees and who have a minimum of 26 weeks' continuous service have the legal right to make a request in relation to study or training and have their request considered. (See Requests in relation to study or training)
  • Complaints about an employer's refusal to accommodate a statutory right to a period of paid/unpaid time off work will be heard by the employment tribunals. (See Complaints to an employment tribunal and Dismissal or selection for redundancy)

Future developments

Parental bereavement leave and pay: On 13 September 2018, the Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018 received Royal Assent. The Act, when commenced, will introduce an entitlement for qualifying employees who are bereaved parents of a child under 18 (including a child stillborn after 24 weeks of pregnancy) to be absent from work with pay to grieve. See the sections on Shared parental leave and Shared parental pay for more details.

Neonatal leave and pay: On 19 July 2019, the Government launched a consultation: Good work plan: Proposals to support families. The Government is seeking views on a proposal to introduce an entitlement for employees who are parents of a baby who requires neonatal care post birth, for at least two continuous weeks, to be absent from work. The leave will be paid subject to qualifying criteria. See Maternity leave and Maternity pay for more details. The consultation closes on 11 October 2019.

Overview

Employers must permit employees (and, in some situations, workers) to take a reasonable amount of time off work for a number of reasons. In some circumstances the right is to paid time off, while in others the right is to unpaid time off work. The right extends to:

Additional resources on overview

FAQs

Policies and documents

Quick reference

Trade union officials

Under ss.168 and 169 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 (TULR(C)A), employees who are officials (such as shop stewards and works convenors) of a recognised independent trade union have the right to be permitted a reasonable amount of paid time off work to enable them to carry out duties concerned with collective bargaining and related issues. The right is irrespective of length of service.

They also have the right to be permitted reasonable paid time off to undergo relevant industrial relations training. The training in question must have been formally approved by the TUC or the independent trade union of which the individual is an official.

The amount of paid time off that an employee is to be permitted to take is that which is reasonable in all the circumstances, having regard to the provisions of the Acas code of practice on time off for trade union duties and activities (including guidance on time off for union learning representatives) (s.168(3)). The same is true of the purposes for which time off can be taken, the occasions on which it can be taken, and any conditions to which the time off is subject.

An employee may bring a complaint to an employment tribunal that the employer has failed to permit him or her time off (s.168(4)), or failed to pay for the time off (s.169(5)), as required. The complaint must be made within three months beginning with the day on which it is alleged that the failure occurred, or within such further period as the tribunal considers reasonable where it is satisfied that this was not reasonably practicable (s.171).

Under s.172(1) and (2) of TULR(C)A, where the complaint under s.168 is successful (failure to permit the employee to take time off), the tribunal will make a declaration to that effect, and may order such compensation as it considers just and equitable in the circumstances, having regard to the employer's default and any loss sustained by the employee. Under s.172(3), where the complaint under s.169 (failure to pay the employee for time off taken) is successful, the tribunal will order the employer to pay the amount it finds due.

Workers are protected under s.146 of TULR(C)A against suffering a detriment by any act, or any deliberate failure to act, by their employer if the act or failure to act takes place for the sole or main purpose of preventing or deterring them from taking part in trade union activities at an appropriate time. A worker may bring a complaint to an employment tribunal that he or she has been subjected to such a detriment (s.146(5)). The complaint must be brought within three months of the detriment or within such further period as the tribunal considers reasonable where it is satisfied that this was not reasonably practicable (s.147(1)). Under s.149, where the complaint is successful, the employment tribunal will make a declaration to that effect, and may order such compensation as it considers just and equitable in the circumstances, having regard to the employer's default and any loss sustained by the worker.

If an employee is dismissed for having asserted his or her rights under s.168 or s.169, the dismissal is automatically unfair (s.104(4) of the Employment Rights Act 1996).

Section 172A of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 (TULR(C)A) introduced a requirement for public-sector employers to publish, and therefore to gather, information related to paid time spent on union functions (also known as facility time) by employees who are union officials (including trade union learning representatives, see Trade union learning representatives). The requirements are set out in the Trade Union (Facility Time Publication Requirements) Regulations 2017 (SI 2017/328), which came into force on 1 April 2017. See Trade unions and industrial action > The consequences of trade union recognition > Public-sector requirement to publish facility time for more information.

Additional resources on trade union officials

FAQs

Policies and documents

Trade union learning representatives

Under ss.168A and 169 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992, an employee who is a member of an independent trade union recognised by the employer and a learning representative of that union is permitted to take a reasonable amount of paid time off work to carry out certain functions, these being:

  • analysing learning or training needs, providing information and advice about learning or training matters, arranging training or learning, or promoting the value of learning or training in relation to qualifying members of the trade union;
  • consulting the employer about carrying on any such activities; and
  • preparing for any of the above.

The employee is also entitled to take time off to undergo training relevant to the role.

The trade union is required to inform the employer in writing that the employee is a learning representative. The employee must be sufficiently trained to carry out duties as a learning representative, either at the time that the trade union gives notice to the employer that he or she is a learning representative or within six months of that date. In the latter case the union must inform the employer in writing that the employee will be undergoing the required training and notify it once he or she has done so.

The amount of paid time off that an employee is to be permitted to take is that which is reasonable in all the circumstances, having regard to the provisions of the Acas code of practice on time off for trade union duties and activities (including guidance on time off for union learning representatives). The same is true of the purposes for which time off can be taken, the occasions on which it can be taken, and any conditions to which the time off is subject. The code is supplemented by two non-statutory guides, which are also available on the Acas website; Trade union representation in the workplace: a guide to managing time off, training and facilities and Non-union representation in the workplace: a guide to managing time off, training and facilities.

An employee may bring a complaint to an employment tribunal that the employer has failed to permit him or her time off (s.168A(9)) or failed to pay for the time off (s.169(5)), as required. The complaint must be made within three months beginning with the day on which it is alleged that the failure occurred, or within such further period as the tribunal considers reasonable where it is satisfied that this was not reasonably practicable (s.171).

Under s.172(1) and (2) of TULR(C)A, where the complaint under s.168A is successful (failure to permit the employee to take time off), the tribunal will make a declaration to that effect, and may order such compensation as it considers just and equitable in the circumstances, having regard to the employer's default and any loss sustained by the employee. Under s.172(3), where the complaint under s.169 (failure to pay the employee for time off taken) is successful, the tribunal will order the employer to pay the amount it finds due.

Workers are protected under s.146 of TULR(C)A against suffering a detriment by any act, or any deliberate failure to act, by their employer if the act or failure to act takes place for the sole or main purpose of preventing or deterring them from taking part in trade union activities at an appropriate time. A worker may bring a complaint to an employment tribunal that he or she has been subjected to such a detriment (s.146(5)). The complaint must be brought within three months of the detriment or within such further period as the tribunal considers reasonable where it is satisfied that this was not reasonably practicable (s.147(1)). Under s.149, where the complaint is successful, the employment tribunal will make a declaration to that effect, and may order such compensation as it considers just and equitable in the circumstances, having regard to the employer's default and any loss sustained by the worker.

If an employee is dismissed for having asserted his or her rights under s.168A or s.169, the dismissal is automatically unfair (s.104(4) of the Employment Rights Act 1996).

Section 172A of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 (TULR(C)A) introduced a requirement for public-sector employers to publish, and therefore to gather, information related to paid time spent on union functions (also known as facility time) by employees who are union officials (see Trade union officials). Facility time data related to trade union learning representatives must be recorded and included for reporting purposes. The requirements are set out in the Trade Union (Facility Time Publication Requirements) Regulations 2017 (SI 2017/328), which came into force on 1 April 2017. See Trade unions and industrial action > The consequences of trade union recognition > Public-sector requirement to publish facility time for more information.

Additional resources on trade union learning representatives

FAQs

Policies and documents

Trade union members

Under s.170 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992, employees who are members of recognised independent trade unions have the right to be permitted a reasonable amount of unpaid time off work to enable them to take part in the activities of the trade union to which they belong.

That right is available to all trade union members, regardless of their length of service. The trade union activities envisaged by the legislation include urgent shopfloor meetings, the voting in of shop stewards, attendance at policy-making meetings of the trade union (a member attending as the elected representative of his or her colleagues on the shopfloor), and representing the union on external bodies.

Activities that themselves consist of industrial action (whether or not in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute) do not qualify as trade union activities for this purpose.

Under s.170(2B), employees who are members of a recognised independent trade union also have the right to take reasonable unpaid time off for the purpose of having access to services provided by someone in his or her capacity as a trade union learning representative.

The amount of time off that an employee is to be permitted to take is that which is reasonable in all the circumstances, having regard to the provisions of the Acas code of practice on time off for trade union duties and activities (including guidance on time off for union learning representatives). The same is true of the purposes for which time off can be taken, the occasions on which it can be taken, and any conditions to which the time off is subject.

An employee may bring a complaint to an employment tribunal that the employer has failed to permit him or her time off (ss.170(4)). The complaint must be made within three months beginning with the day on which it is alleged that the failure occurred, or within such further period as the tribunal considers reasonable where it is satisfied that this was not reasonably practicable (s.171).

Under s.172(1) and (2) of TULR(C)A, where the complaint is successful, the tribunal will make a declaration to that effect, and may order such compensation as it considers just and equitable in the circumstances, having regard to the employer's default and any loss sustained by the employee.

Workers are protected under s.146 of TULR(C)A against suffering a detriment by any act, or any deliberate failure to act, by their employer if the act or failure to act takes place for the sole or main purpose of preventing or deterring them from taking part in trade union activities at an appropriate time. A worker may bring a complaint to an employment tribunal that he or she has been subjected to such a detriment (s.146(5)). The complaint must be brought within three months of the detriment or within such further period as the tribunal considers reasonable where it is satisfied that this was not reasonably practicable (s.147(1)). Under s.149, where the complaint is successful, the tribunal will make a declaration to that effect, and may order such compensation as it considers just and equitable in the circumstances, having regard to the employer's default and any loss sustained by the worker.

If an employee is dismissed for having asserted his or her rights under s.170, the dismissal is automatically unfair (s.104(4) of the Employment Rights Act 1996).

Additional resources on trade union members

FAQs

Policies and documents

Safety representatives

Under reg.4(2) of the Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977 (SI 1977/500), safety representatives appointed by recognised independent trade unions to represent the health and safety interests of their members in the workplace have the legal right to be permitted such time off work during their normal working hours as is necessary to enable them to perform their functions and to undergo relevant safety training.

Safety representatives must be paid their normal wages or salary while taking approved time off work to carry out their functions or attend safety training courses.

The type of training envisaged by the legislation includes training in the role of safety representatives, as well as training in health and safety legislation, and how to recognise and control workplace hazards.

Further guidance is contained in Consulting workers on health and safety: Safety Representatives aqnd Safety Committees Regulations 1977 (as amended) and Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations 1996 (as amended): Approved Codes of Practice and guidance.

An employee may bring a complaint to an employment tribunal that the employer has failed to permit him or her time off, or failed to pay for the time off, as required (reg.11). The complaint must be made within three months beginning with the day on which it is alleged that the failure occurred, or within such further period as the tribunal considers reasonable where it is satisfied that this was not reasonably practicable.

Where the complaint is successful, the tribunal will make a declaration to that effect, and may order such compensation as it considers just and equitable in the circumstances, having regard to the employer's default and any loss sustained by the employee. If the employer has failed to pay the employee for time off taken, the tribunal will order the employer to pay the amount due.

Section 172A of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 (TULR(C)A) introduced a requirement for public-sector employers to publish, and therefore to gather, information related to paid time spent on union functions (also known as facility time) by employees who are union officials (see Trade union officials). Facility time data related to trade union safety representatives must be recorded and included for reporting purposes. The requirements are set out in the Trade Union (Facility Time Publication Requirements) Regulations 2017 (SI 2017/328), which came into force on 1 April 2017. See Public-sector requirement to publish facility time for more information.

Additional resources on safety representatives

Policies and documents

Employee-elected safety representatives

In workplaces in which there is no trade union recognition and no trade-union-appointed safety representatives, the employees themselves have the right to be consulted and informed about health and safety issues. They may, instead, elect one or more of their number to represent their interests in consultations with their employer on matters affecting their health and safety at work (regs.3 and 4 of the Health and Safety (Consultations with Employees) Regulations 1996 (SI 1996/1513)).

Under reg.7, employee-elected safety representatives have the right to be permitted to take such paid time off work as is necessary to enable them to perform their functions under the Regulations.

Any employee standing as a candidate for election as a representative of employee safety is also entitled to be permitted a reasonable amount of paid time off work to perform their functions as such a candidate.

Under para.2(a) of sch.2 to the Health and Safety (Consultations with Employees) Regulations 1996, an employee may bring a complaint to an employment tribunal that the employer has failed to permit him or her time off, or failed to pay for the time off (para.2(b) of sch.2), as required. The complaint must be made within three months beginning with the day on which it is alleged that the failure occurred, or within such further period as the tribunal considers reasonable where it is satisfied that this was not reasonably practicable.

Under para.4 of sch.2, where the complaint under para.2(a) of sch.2 (failure to permit employee to take time off) is successful, the tribunal will make a declaration to that effect, and may order such compensation as it considers just and equitable in the circumstances, having regard to the employer's default and any loss sustained by the employee. Where the complaint under para.2(b) of sch.2 (failure to pay the employee for time off taken ) is successful, the tribunal will order the employer to pay the amount due (para.5 of sch.2).

Additional resources on employee-elected safety representatives

Policies and documents

Pension scheme trustees

Under ss.58 and 59 of the Employment Rights Act 1996, employees who are pension scheme trustees have the right to be permitted a reasonable amount of paid time off work to enable them to perform their duties as such trustees, or to undergo training relevant to the performance of those duties.

Under s.60, an employee may bring a complaint to an employment tribunal that the employer has failed to permit him or her time off (under s.58), or failed to pay for the time off (under s.59), as required. The complaint must be made within three months beginning with the day on which it is alleged that the failure occurred, or within such further period as the tribunal considers reasonable where it is satisfied that this was not reasonably practicable.

Where the complaint is successful under s.58 (failure to permit the employee to take time off), the tribunal will make a declaration to that effect, and may order such compensation as it considers just and equitable in the circumstances, having regard to the employer's default and any loss sustained by the employee. Where the complaint under s.59 (failure to pay the employee for time off taken) is successful, the tribunal will order the employer to pay the amount it finds due.

Employees are protected under s.46 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 against suffering a detriment by any act or deliberate failure to act by their employer on the ground that they perform any functions as a trustee of an occupational pension scheme. An employee may bring a complaint to an employment tribunal that he or she has been subjected to such a detriment (s.48). The complaint must be brought within three months of the detriment or within such further period as the tribunal considers reasonable where it is satisfied that this was not reasonably practicable. Under s.49, where the complaint is successful, the tribunal will make a declaration to that effect, and may order compensation as it considers just and equitable in the circumstances, having regard to the employer's default and any loss sustained by the employee.

If an employee is dismissed for having performed any functions as a trustee of an occupational pension scheme, the dismissal is automatically unfair (s.102 of the Employment Rights Act 1996).

Additional resources on pension scheme trustees

Policies and documents

Employee representatives

Under ss.61 and 62 of the Employment Rights Act 1996, employee representatives appointed by a recognised independent trade union, or, in the absence of trade union representation, elected by fellow employees, to represent their interests in negotiations concerning collective redundancies or a proposed TUPE transfer, have the legal right to be permitted a reasonable amount of paid time off work to enable them to carry out their functions in relation to such negotiations or to undergo relevant training. The same right extends to employees who are candidates for election as employee representatives.

Under s.63, an employee may bring a complaint to an employment tribunal that the employer has failed to permit him or her time off (s.61), or failed to pay for the time off (s.62), as required. The complaint must be made within three months beginning with the day on which it is alleged that the failure occurred, or within such further period as the tribunal considers reasonable where it is satisfied that this was not reasonably practicable.

Where the complaint is successful, the tribunal will make a declaration to that effect and order the employer to pay the employee the amount due. This is:

  • the amount to which the employee is entitled in relation to time off that he or she was permitted to take but for which he or she was not paid; or
  • the amount that the employee would have received had he or she not unreasonably been refused the time off requested.

An employee is protected under s.47 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 against suffering a detriment by their employer on the ground that they are an employee representative or candidate in an election to be an employee representative or performs any functions as an employee representative or candidate. An employee may bring a complaint to an employment tribunal that they have been subjected to such a detriment (s.48(1)). The complaint must be brought within three months of the detriment or within such further period as the tribunal considers reasonable where it is satisfied that this was not reasonably practicable. Under s.49, where the complaint is successful, the tribunal will make a declaration to that effect, and may order such compensation as it considers just and equitable in the circumstances, having regard to the employer's default and any loss sustained by the employee.

If an employee is dismissed for having been an employee representative or candidate in an election to be an employee representative or performed activities of an employee representative or candidate, the dismissal is automatically unfair (s.103 of the Employment Rights Act 1996).

Additional resources on employee representatives

FAQs

Policies and documents

Redundant employees

Under ss.52 to 54 of the Employment Rights Act 1996, employees who have been given notice of dismissal by reason of redundancy must be permitted a reasonable amount of paid time off work before the end of their notice to look for new employment - for example, attending job interviews - or to make arrangements for training for future employment. To qualify for such time off, employees must have been continuously employed for at least two years by the date their notice is due to expire (or would expire if the correct minimum notice were given).

An employee who has unreasonably refused an offer of suitable alternative employment, thereby losing their right to a statutory redundancy payment, is still entitled to time off work for these purposes.

Case law has confirmed that employers do not have the right to require employees to produce evidence of a job interview. There is no reason why an employee should not be allowed to take time off to look for work without an appointment, for example to visit a job centre (Dutton v Hawker Siddeley Aviation Ltd [1978] IRLR 390 EAT).

What is "reasonable" time off will depend on the circumstances of the individual case, such as how difficult finding new employment is likely to be, the distance that the employee may have to travel to do so, and the needs of the employer.

An employee who is permitted to take time off is entitled to be remunerated at the appropriate hourly rate, which is defined as a week's pay divided by:

  • the number of normal working hours in a week; or
  • where this varies, the average number of working hours calculated by dividing by 12 the total number of hours worked by the employee over the 12-week period ending with the last complete week before the day on which the notice was given.

Although no limit on the time off that can be taken is specified, the maximum amount payable for time off during an employee's notice period is 40% of a week's pay (s.53(5) of the Employment Rights Act 1996). There is no limit on the amount of a week's pay for these purposes.

Under s.54 of the Employment Rights Act 1996, redundant employees may present a complaint to an employment tribunal if their employer has unreasonably refused to permit them to take time off work to look for work or arrange training, or failed to pay the amount due. The complaint must be made within three months beginning with the day on which it is alleged that the time off should have been permitted, or within such further period as the tribunal considers reasonable where it is satisfied that this was not reasonably practicable.

Where the complaint is successful the tribunal will make a declaration to that effect and order the employer to pay the employee the amount due. This is:

  • the amount to which the employee is entitled in relation to time off that he or she was permitted to take but for which he or she was not paid; or
  • the amount that the employee would have received had he or she not unreasonably been refused the time off requested.

Additional resources on redundant employees

FAQs

Policies and documents

Requests in relation to study or training

Under s.63D of the Employment Rights Act 1996, employees who are employed in organisations with 250 or more employees and who have at least 26 weeks' continuous service have the legal right to make a request in relation to study or training and have their request considered. Employees may make requests that will help them to be more effective at work and help their employers to improve business performance.

While the right is commonly referred to as the right to request time off for training, it is not limited to requests for time off. The application must be made "for the purpose of enabling the employee to undertake study or training (or both)". Most requests will involve time off, but an employee may make a request that the employer organise, provide or pay for training.

Employers are not obliged automatically to agree to a request in relation to study or training, but must consider a valid request and adhere to a prescribed procedure (s.63F of the Employment Rights Act 1996). Employers may refuse the request only if the refusal is for a specified business reason as set out in s.63F(7) of the Employment Rights Act 1996.

Under s.63I of the Employment Rights Act 1996, an employee whose request in relation to study or training has been refused may bring a complaint to an employment tribunal, but only where:

  • the decision to reject their application was based on incorrect facts; or
  • the employer did not follow the prescribed procedure.

The complaint must be made within three months beginning with the date on which the employee was notified of the decision (on appeal) or the date on which it is alleged the breach was committed, or within such further period as the tribunal considers reasonable where it is satisfied that this was not reasonably practicable. Where the employee's complaint is successful, the tribunal can order the employer to reconsider the employee's request and/or award the employee compensation of up to eight weeks' pay (subject to the statutory cap on the amount of a week's pay). For further information see Training > Training obligations > Requests in relation to study or training.

Employees are protected under s.47F of the Employment Rights Act 1996 against suffering any detriment by their employer on the ground that they exercised, or proposed to exercise, rights under s.63D. An employee may bring a complaint to an employment tribunal that he or she has been subjected to such a detriment (s.48(1)). The complaint must be brought within three months of the detriment or within such further period as the tribunal considers reasonable where it is satisfied that this was not reasonably practicable. Where the complaint is successful, the tribunal will make a declaration to that effect, and may order such compensation as it considers just and equitable in the circumstances, having regard to the employer's default and any loss sustained by the employee. If an employee is dismissed by reason of having exercised rights under s.63D or s.63F, or for having brought proceedings under s.63I, the dismissal is automatically unfair (s.104E of the Employment Rights Act 1996).

Additional resources on requests in relation to study or training

FAQs

Policies and documents

"How to" guidance

Liveflo

Young persons (for study or training)

Under ss.63A to 63B of the Employment Rights Act 1996, some young employees aged 16 or 17 who have completed full-time secondary or further education without having attained a prescribed standard of achievement have the right to be permitted a reasonable amount of paid time off work to enable them to pursue studies or training leading to a relevant academic or vocational qualification. The same right extends to 18-year-old employees who began their studies or training before their 18th birthday. The right does not apply to young people in England who are subject to the duty to participate in education or training under the Education and Skills Act 2008 (see below).

Young persons who are supplied by their employer to another person (the principal) also have the right to be permitted a reasonable amount of paid time off work to undertake appropriate study or training (for example where an agency hires out its employees to client employers). The responsibility for providing a reasonable amount of paid time off work rests with the principal (s.63A(3) of the Employment Rights Act 1996).

The right to paid time off work for study or training extends to those young employees who left school without achieving the qualifications set out in reg.3(1) of the Right to Time Off for Study or Training Regulations 2001 (SI 2001/2801) (below), or the equivalent as determined in reg.3(2) to (4):

  • grades A* to C in five subjects in GCSE examinations;
  • SQA Standard Grades at grades 1 to 3 in five subjects;
  • one Intermediate level GNVQ or one GSVQ at level 2;
  • one NVQ or SVQ at level 2;
  • one BTEC First Certificate awarded by the Edexcel Foundation;
  • one BTEC First Diploma awarded by the Edexcel Foundation;
  • the City and Guilds of London Institute Diploma of Vocational Education at Intermediate level; or
  • 16 SQA unit assessment credits at least eight of which are at Intermediate 2 or above and the remainder at Intermediate 1, where unit credits are awarded on the basis of one per 40-hour SQA National Unit or National Certificate module or SQA Short Course and pro rata for SQA National Units or National Certificate modules of different duration.

"Time off" does not necessarily mean time away from the workplace. The study or training may be undertaken on the employer's premises, at a college or other training establishment, or via other other options such as distance learning.

The amount of time off, and the number of occasions on which time off is to be permitted, will largely depend on the demands of the study or training that the employee is pursuing, the size of the employer's business and the effect of the time off on the running of that business.

Under s.63C of the Employment Rights Act 1996, employees may complain to an employment tribunal if their employer has unreasonably refused to permit them to take time off for study or training, or has failed to pay for time off taken. The complaint must be made within three months beginning with the day on which the time off was taken or it is alleged that it should have been permitted, or within such further period as the tribunal considers reasonable where it is satisfied that this was not reasonably practicable.

Where the complaint is successful the tribunal will make a declaration to that effect and order the employer to pay the employee the amount due. This is:

  • where the employer has failed to pay the employee for time off taken, the amount due; or
  • where the employer has unreasonably refused time off, the amount that the employee would have received had he or she not unreasonably been refused the time off requested.

Under s.47A of the Employment Rights Act 1996, employees have the right not to be subjected to a detriment by the acts or omissions of their employer, done on the ground that they are entitled to time off under s.63A(1) or (3) and to be paid under s.63B(1) in respect of such time off where they have exercised the right or received such a payment (or proposed to exercise the right or sought to receive such a payment). Under s.48 of the Employment Rights Act 1996, employees may pursue a complaint before an employment tribunal in respect of a breach of s.47A.

Young employees are not covered by the right to time off for study or training under s.63A of the Employment Rights Act 1996 if they are subject to the duty to participate in education or training set out in the Education and Skills Act 2008. The 2008 Act requires young people under 18 in England who have not attained a level 3 qualification, to continue to participate in education or training. The provisions do not affect the school leaving age and young people who have left school are still permitted to work provided that they also undertake training, for example at college or through a work-based training programme.

Additional resources on young persons (for study or training)

FAQs

Policies and documents

Public duties

Under ss.50 and 51 of the Employment Rights Act 1996, employees who are Justices of the Peace or independent prison monitors in prisons in Scotland or who are officials or members of the following public bodies or committees have the legal right to be permitted a reasonable amount of unpaid time off work to enable them to carry out their functions as such officials or members. The bodies or committees in question are:

  • a local authority;
  • a statutory tribunal;
  • an independent monitoring board for a prison or a prison visiting committee;
  • a relevant health authority;
  • a relevant education body;
  • the Environment Agency or the Scottish Environment Protection Agency;
  • Scottish Water;
  • a panel of lay observers, who monitor conditions in court custody and under escort;
  • a visiting committee of immigration removal centres; or
  • a visiting committee of immigration short-term holding facilities.

What constitutes a reasonable amount of time off will depend on: how much time off is required to carry out the duties; how much time the employee has already had off for public duties or for trade union duties and activities; and the circumstances of the employer's business and the effect of the employee's absence on the running of the business.

The Employment Rights Act 1996 makes no provision for payment of normal wages or salary to an employee who takes time off for public duties.

Employees may complain to an employment tribunal if their employer has refused to permit them to take reasonable time off for public duties. The complaint must be made within three months beginning with the day on which the failure occurred, or within such further period as the tribunal considers reasonable where it is satisfied that this was not reasonably practicable.

If a tribunal upholds a complaint, it will make a declaration to that effect, and may order such compensation as it considers just and equitable in the circumstances, having regard to the employer's default and any loss sustained by the employee. In Corner v Buckinghamshire County Council [1978] IRLR 320 EAT, the tribunal held that Mr Corner's complaint that he had not been permitted reasonable time off by his employer to perform his duties as a Justice of the Peace was well founded. It concluded that he should be given 19 days a year for normal duties and two for special duties, but that "all days of absence over 10 days should be unpaid leave". The Employment Appeal Tribunal upheld Mr Corner's appeal that the tribunal did not have the power to impose conditions about the way in which time off would be granted.

Additional resources on public duties

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Policies and documents

European Works Council and special negotiating body members

Under regs.25 and 26 of the Transnational Information and Consultation of Employees Regulations 1999 (SI 1999/3323), employees who are European Works Council or special negotiating body members, or who have been elected as, or put their names forward for election as, information and consultation representatives, have the right to be permitted a reasonable amount of paid time off, during their normal working hours, to perform their functions.

Under reg.27, employees may complain to an employment tribunal if their employer has unreasonably refused to permit them to take time off as required by reg.25, or failed to pay the amount due for time off taken. The complaint must be made within three months beginning with the day on which the time off was taken or it is alleged that it should have been permitted, or within such further period as the tribunal considers reasonable where it is satisfied that this was not reasonably practicable.

Where the complaint is successful, the tribunal will make a declaration to that effect. If the complaint is that the employer has unreasonably refused to permit the employee to take time off, the tribunal will also order the employer to pay the employee the amount that the employee would have received had he or she not unreasonably been refused the time off requested. If the employer has failed to pay the employee for time off taken, the tribunal will order the employer to pay the amount due.

Antenatal care

Time off for antenatal care for pregnant employees

Under ss.55 to 57 of the Employment Rights Act 1996, during her pregnancy, an employee has the right to paid time off work to enable her to attend an antenatal appointment, where her attendance has been recommended by a registered medical practitioner, midwife or nurse.

If asked to do so by her employer, the employee must produce a certificate from a registered medical practitioner, midwife or nurse confirming that she is pregnant, and an appointment card or other document confirming that she has made an antenatal appointment. This does not apply where the employee is seeking time off for the first antenatal appointment of her pregnancy.

Employers should bear in mind that individuals may not be able to choose the time of their appointment.

An employee may present a complaint to a tribunal that she has been unreasonably refused time off for antenatal care or that the employer has failed to pay her for the time off. The complaint must be made within three months beginning with the date of the relevant appointment, or within such further period as the tribunal considers reasonable where it is satisfied that this was not reasonably practicable.

Where the complaint is successful the tribunal will make a declaration to that effect. If the complaint is that the employer has unreasonably refused to permit the employee to take time off prior to 1 October 2014, the tribunal will also order the employer to pay the employee the amount that she would have received had she been given the time off. If the employer unreasonably refused to permit the employee to take time off on or after 1 October 2014, the tribunal will order the employer to pay the employee an amount that is twice the amount that she would have received had she been given the time off.

If the employer has failed to pay the employee for time off taken, the tribunal will order the employer to pay the amount due.

Time off for fathers and partners to accompany pregnant women to antenatal appointments

With effect from 1 October 2014, under s.57ZE of the Employment Rights Act 1996, an employee who has a "qualifying relationship" with a pregnant woman or her expected child has the right to take unpaid time off during working hours to accompany the pregnant woman to an antenatal appointment on up to two occasions for a maximum of six-and-a-half hours on each occasion (s.57ZE(1) - (3)). The right, which does not require any qualifying service, applies only where the appointment is made on the advice of a registered medical practitioner, midwife or nurse (s.57ZE(4)).

Section 57ZE(7) provides that an employee has a qualifying relationship with a pregnant woman or her expected child, if:

  • the employee is the pregnant woman's husband or civil partner;
  • the employee lives with the pregnant woman in an enduring family relationship but is not: her full blood or half blood parent, grandparent, sister, brother, aunt or uncle; or her adoptive or former adoptive parent;
  • the employee is the expected child's father;
  • the employee is a parent of the expected child under s.42 or s.43 of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008, which deal with a pregnancy resulting from assisted reproduction; or
  • the employee is a potential applicant for a parental order in relation to the expected child under s.54 of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008, which deals with pregnancy using a surrogate.

Under s.57ZE(5) and (6), the employer may request that the employee provides a signed declaration confirming:

  • the employee's qualifying relationship with the pregnant woman or her expected child;
  • that the purpose of the time off is to accompany the woman at her antenatal appointment;
  • that the appointment is made on the advice of a registered medical practitioner, midwife or nurse; and
  • the date and time of the appointment.

Where an employer requests a declaration but the employee refuses to provide one, he or she is not entitled to take time off under this provision (s.57ZE(5)).

Section 57ZF of the Employment Rights Act 1996 provides that an employee may present a complaint to a tribunal that he or she has been "unreasonably refused" time off under s.57ZE. The complaint must be made within three months beginning with the date of the relevant appointment, or within such further period as the tribunal considers reasonable where it is satisfied that this was not reasonably practicable.

Where the complaint is successful the tribunal will make a declaration to that effect and order the employer to pay the employee the appropriate hourly rate for the number of working hours that the employee would have been entitled to be absent under s.57ZE (up to 6.5 hours in respect of each appointment) multiplied by two (s.57ZF(5)).

An employee has the right not to be subjected to a detriment for taking time off under s.57ZE (s.47C(2)(aa) of the Employment Rights Act 1996). An employee who is dismissed for taking time off under s.57ZE will be regarded having been automatically unfairly dismissed (s.99(3)(aa) of the Employment Rights Act 1996).

Additional resources on antenatal care

FAQs

Policies and documents

"How to" guidance

Time off to attend adoption appointments prior to adoption placement

With effect from 5 April 2015, employees who are adopting alone or jointly are entitled to time off to attend adoption appointments prior to the date on which the adoption placement commences.

Under s.57ZJ of the Employment Rights Act 1996, an employee who has been notified by an adoption agency that a child is to be, or is expected to be, placed for adoption with the employee alone has the right to paid time off during working hours to attend an appointment arranged by the adoption agency in relation to the proposed adoption.

An employee who has been notified that a child is to be, or is expected to be, placed jointly for adoption with the employee and another person, can elect to take paid time off under s.57ZJ or unpaid time off under s.57ZL during working hours. The purpose of the time off must be to attend an appointment arranged by the adoption agency in relation to the proposed adoption. Where two employees are jointly adopting a child and are entitled to time off under these provisions, only one of them can elect to take paid time off under s.57ZJ, but the other employee can elect to take unpaid time off under s.57ZL. The same rule applies where an employee and an agency worker are jointly adopting a child.

The right to paid time off to attend an adoption appointment under s.57ZJ is limited to five occasions for a maximum of six-and-a-half hours on each occasion (s.57ZJ(5)-(6)).

The right to unpaid time off to attend an adoption appointment under s.57ZL is limited to two occasions for a maximum of six-and-a-half hours on each occasion (s.57ZP(4)-(5)).

The right to time off applies only where the appointment has been arranged by, or at the request of, the adoption agency that notified the employee of the placement. The purpose of the appointment must be to allow the employee to have contact with the child or for any other purpose connected with the adoption. Further, the appointment must take place prior to the date of placement of the child with the employee.

Under s.57ZK of the Employment Rights Act 1996, an employee is entitled to be paid at the "appropriate hourly rate" (as defined in s.57ZK(2)-(3)) by the employer for any time that he or she takes off under s.57ZJ.

An employee is not entitled to take time off to attend an adoption appointment unless, where requested by the employer, he or she provides a document confirming:

  • the date and time of the appointment; and
  • that the appointment has been arranged by, or at the request of, the adoption agency.

Further, in the case of a joint adoption where an employee has elected to take paid time off under s.57ZJ or unpaid time off under s.57ZL, the employee's entitlement to take time off is contingent on providing a signed declaration, if requested by the employer, stating that the employee has made such an election.

The document and the declaration may be submitted to the employer in electronic form.

If more than one child is to be, or is expected to be, placed with an employee as part of the same arrangement, the provisions relating to time off and pay are modified so that the arrangement is treated as one adoption in relation to time off and pay (s.57ZJ(11) and s.57ZL(9)). The effect of these modifications is as follows:

  • an adoption appointment may relate to one or more of the children to be placed;
  • the employee is not entitled to take time off on more than five occasions (under s.57ZJ) or two occasions (under s.57ZL) in respect of the arrangement;
  • time off to attend an adoption appointment must be taken before the date of placement of the first child under the arrangement; and
  • an election by the employee to take time off under s.57ZJ(2)(b) or s.57ZL(1)(b) must relate to all the adoptions in the arrangement.

The rights of employees to paid and unpaid time off to attend adoption appointments extend to a local authority foster parent who has been approved as a prospective adopter and who has been notified by a local authority that a child looked after by a local authority is to be, or is expected to be placed with that person under s.22C of the Children Act 1989 (s.57ZS). These rights do not apply where a child looked after by a local authority has been placed with a local authority foster parent under s.22C and where the foster parent has been notified by an adoption agency that the child is to be, or is expected to be, placed with that person for adoption (s.57ZS(3)).

An employee is not entitled to take paternity leave if he or she has exercised the right to paid time off to attend an adoption appointment under s.57ZJ of the Employment Rights Act 1996 in respect of the same child.

Under s.57ZM of the Employment Rights Act 1996, an employer can be liable for unreasonably refusing to permit an employee to take paid time off to attend an adoption appointment under s.57ZJ or unpaid time off to attend an adoption appointment under s.57ZL.

If the employment tribunal upholds an employee's complaint that he or she has been unreasonably refused paid time off under s.57ZJ, the employment tribunal must make a declaration to that effect and order the employer to pay the employee an amount equivalent to twice the amount of pay that he or she would have received under s.57ZK had he or she been allowed the time off (s.57ZM(5)).

If the tribunal upholds an employee's complaint that he or she has been unreasonably refused unpaid time off under s.57ZL, the tribunal must make a declaration to that effect and order the employer to pay the employee the "appropriate hourly rate" (as defined in s.57ZK(2)-(4)) for the number of working hours that he or she would have been entitled to be absent under s.57ZL, multiplied by two (s.57ZM(7) and (8)).

Under s.57ZM(1)(b), an employer can be liable for failing to pay an employee all or part of the pay due to him or her under s.57ZK (which sets out the right to be paid for time off under s.57ZJ). If the employee's claim is upheld, the tribunal will make a declaration to that effect and order the employer to pay the employee the amount that it finds due to him or her (s.57ZM(6)).

Additional resources on time off to attend adoption appointments prior to adoption placement

FAQs

Policies and documents

Ordinary parental leave

Under s.76 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 and the Maternity and Parental Leave etc Regulations 1999 (SI 1999/3312), an employee who is the birth or adoptive parent of a child under the age of 18 has the right to take up to 18 weeks' unpaid ordinary parental leave in respect of that child. The leave must be taken before, or on the date of, the child's 18th birthday. To qualify for ordinary parental leave, an employee must have at least one year's continuous service with their employer (for further information, see Family-friendly rights > Ordinary parental leave).

Additional resources on ordinary parental leave

FAQs

Policies and documents

Dependants

Under s.57A of the Employment Rights Act 1996, employees have the right to take a reasonable amount of unpaid time off work to take action that is necessary:

  • to provide assistance on an occasion when a dependant falls ill, gives birth or is injured or assaulted (s.57A(1)(a));
  • to make arrangements for the provision of care for a dependant who is ill or injured (s.57A(1)(b));
  • in consequence of the death of a dependant (s.57A(1)(c));
  • because of the unexpected disruption or termination of arrangements for the care of a dependant (s.57A(1)(d)); or
  • to deal with an incident involving a child of the employee that occurs unexpectedly during a period when the child is attending school (s.57A(1)(e)).

The employee must inform the employer of the reason for their absence as soon as reasonably practicable. Except on those occasions where it is not possible for the employee to inform the employer of the reason for their absence until after returning to work, the employee must also tell the employer for how long he or she expects to be absent. There is no obligation for the reason for the absence to be articulated with any formality. In Truelove v Safeway Stores plc EAT/0295/04, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) concluded that all that had to be communicated was sufficient information for the employer to understand that something had happened to cause a care arrangement to break down and made the employee's urgent absence from work necessary.

Section 57A(3) - (5) of the Employment Rights Act 1996 provides that a "dependant" for these purposes is:

  • the employee's spouse or civil partner, child or parent;
  • any person who lives in the same household as the employee other than as an employee, tenant, lodger or boarder;
  • any other person who would reasonably rely on the employee for assistance if he or she falls ill or is injured or assaulted, or who would rely on the employee to make arrangements for the provision of care in the event of illness or injury; or
  • in relation to the disruption or termination of care for a dependant, any other person who reasonably relies on the employee to make arrangements for the provision of care.

Under s.57B of the Employment Rights Act 1996, an employee may present a complaint to an employment tribunal that he or she has been unreasonably refused time off for dependants. The complaint must be made within three months beginning with the date of the refusal, or within such further period as the tribunal considers reasonable where it is satisfied that this was not reasonably practicable. If the tribunal upholds the complaint, it will make a declaration to that effect, and may order such compensation as it considers just and equitable in the circumstances, having regard to the employer's default and any loss sustained by the employee.

An employee has the right under s.47(C) of the Employment Rights Act 1996 not to be subjected to a detriment by any act, or any deliberate failure to act, by their employer in respect of their rights under s.57A. An employee may bring a complaint to an employment tribunal that he or she has been subjected to such a detriment (s.48(1)). The complaint must be brought within three months of the detriment or within such further period as the tribunal considers reasonable where it is satisfied that this was not reasonably practicable. Where the complaint is successful, the remedy is the same as for a successful complaint under s.57B. If an employee is dismissed for exercising their right to time off, the dismissal is automatically unfair (s.99 of the Employment Rights Act 1996).

In Qua v John Ford Morrison Solicitors [2003] IRLR 184 EAT, the EAT made a number of important points regarding the statutory right to time off for dependants. It emphasised that it does not include the right to time off to provide care, beyond a reasonable amount necessary to deal with the immediate crisis, and that the amount of disruption or inconvenience caused to the employer by the employee's absence should be disregarded when considering if the leave is reasonable. No daily updates are necessary; the employee's duty is simply to inform the employer of the reason for their absence and how long it is expected to last.

In MacCulloch & Wallis Ltd v Moore EAT/51/02, the EAT acknowledged that, although s.57A of the Employment Rights Act 1996 does not specify what a reasonable amount of time off is, since this will vary according to the circumstances of the emergency, in most cases one or two days will be the most needed to deal with the immediate issues and sort out longer-term arrangements if necessary. The key to how much time off is reasonable is foreseeability, and it will inevitably be a question of fact and degree in each situation.

In Cortest Ltd v O'Toole EAT/0470/07, the EAT held that one to two months off work for the employee to care for his children when his partner unexpectedly left them in his care was not reasonable. Although each case is fact sensitive, the purpose of the legislation is to cover emergencies and enable other arrangements to be made, and such a long period of leave would "rarely, almost never, fall within s.57A".

In Forster v Cartwright Black [2004] IRLR 781 EAT, the EAT held that sickness absence caused by grief following a bereavement is not time off that is necessary "in consequence of the death of a dependant". The phrase extends to only such matters as time off to make funeral arrangements, register the death and apply for probate.

In Royal Bank of Scotland plc v Harrison [2009] IRLR 28 EAT, the EAT upheld the employment tribunal decision that the employee was entitled to take time off to care for her two children under s.57A(1)(d) and that she had suffered a detriment for doing so. The EAT found no basis for the insertion of the words "sudden and" or "in emergency" into s.57A(1)(d). The meaning of "unexpected" in relation to the disruption to an employee's childcare arrangements does not involve a time element.

Additional resources on dependants

FAQs

Policies and documents

Line manager briefings

To accompany at disciplinary and grievance hearings

Under s.10 of the Employment Relations Act 1999, a worker who is invited to attend a disciplinary or grievance hearing has the right to be accompanied at any such hearing by a fellow worker or full-time trade union official where they so request (see Discipline and grievances > Grievance procedures > A worker's right to be accompanied at grievance hearings and Discipline and grievances > Disciplinary rules and procedures > A worker's right to be accompanied at disciplinary hearings). Under ss.10(6) and 10(7), an employer must permit a worker to take paid time off for the purpose of accompanying another of its workers to such a meeting.

The provisions relating to time off for trade union duties in ss.168(3) and (4), 169 and 171-173 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 (TULR(C)A) apply in respect of the right to take paid time off under s.10 of the Employment Relations Act 1999. A worker may make a complaint to an employment tribunal that the employer has failed to permit them to take reasonable time off (s.168(4)) or failed to pay for the time off (s.169(5)), as required. The complaint must be submitted within three months of the failure, or within such further period as the tribunal considers reasonable where it is satisfied that this was not reasonably practicable.

Under s.172(1) of TULR(C)A, where the complaint under s.168 is successful (failure to permit the employee to take reasonable time off), the tribunal will make a declaration to that effect and may make an award of such compensation as the tribunal considers just and equitable in all the circumstances, having regard to the employer's default and any loss sustained by the employee. Where the tribunal finds that the employer has failed to pay the worker for time off taken (s.169), it will order it to pay the amount that it finds due (s.172(3)).

Workers are protected under s.12 of the Employment Relations Act 1999 against suffering a detriment by any act, or any deliberate failure to act, by their employer because they accompanied or sought to accompany another worker to a disciplinary or grievance hearing. A worker may bring a complaint to an employment tribunal that he or she has been subjected to such a detriment (s.12(2) of the Employment Relations Act 1999 and s.48 of the Employment Rights Act 1996). The complaint must be submitted within three months of the detriment or within such further period as the tribunal considers reasonable where it is satisfied that this was not reasonably practicable. Under s.49 of the Employment Rights Act 1996, where the complaint is successful, the employment tribunal will make a declaration to that effect, and may order such compensation as it considers just and equitable in the circumstances, having regard to the employer's default and any loss sustained by the worker.

If a worker is dismissed by reason of having asserted their rights under s.10 of the Employment Relations Act 1999, the dismissal is automatically unfair (s.12(3) of the Employment Relations Act 1999).

Additional resources on time off to accompany at disciplinary and grievance hearings

FAQs

To accompany at a request in relation to study or training meeting

Under reg.16(2) of the Employee Study and Training (Procedural Requirements) Regulations 2010 (SI 2010/155), where an employer holds a meeting to discuss an employee's request in relation to study or training, the employee has the right to be accompanied at the meeting by a fellow worker (see Training > Training obligations > Requests in relation to study or training). If the employee's chosen companion is unavailable at the time proposed by the employer, it must postpone the meeting to a mutually convenient time proposed by the employee that is within seven days of the original date proposed (regs.16(5) and (6)). Under reg.16(7), an employer must permit a worker to take time off during working hours for the purpose of accompanying an employee to such a meeting.

Regulation 17 provides that an employee may make a complaint to an employment tribunal that the employer: failed, or threatened to fail, to permit the employee to be accompanied by their chosen companion (under reg.16(2)); did not permit the employee to address the meeting or confer with the employee during it (under reg.16(3)); or failed to postpone the meeting when the employee's chosen companion was unavailable (under reg.16(5)). The complaint must be submitted within three months of the failure or threat, or within such further period as the tribunal considers reasonable where it is satisfied that this was not reasonably practicable.

Where a tribunal finds that a complaint is well-founded, it must order the employer to pay compensation of an amount not exceeding two weeks' pay.

Additional resources on time off to accompany at a request in relation to study or training meeting

FAQs

Members of the volunteer reserve forces

Under the Reserve Forces Act 1996, members of the volunteer reserve forces, or the regular reserve forces are liable to be called up (or recalled) at short notice for military operations.

It is an offence under the Reserve Forces (Safeguard of Employment) Act 1985 to terminate a reservist employee's employment because he or she has been (or is liable to be) called up for active military service. The penalty on summary conviction is a fine of up to £1,000. The court may also order the employer to pay the employee the equivalent of up to five weeks' pay as compensation for any loss suffered or likely to be suffered as a result of the termination.

The call-out powers under which reservists can be mobilised for service are set out in the Reserve Forces Act 1996. Under s.96, a reservist who fails to comply with the terms of a call-out notice, without lawful reason, is guilty of desertion or absence without leave. Under s.101, any person (including an employer) who induces a reservist, by any means, to desert or be absent without leave is guilty of an offence and liable to a fine and/or imprisonment. However, under the Reserve Forces (Call-out and Recall) (Exemptions Etc) Regulations (SI 1997/307), an employer can apply to an adjudication officer to have a reservist's call-up notice deferred or revoked or for the reservist to be exempted from call-out. The grounds on which an employer may make such an application are that the absence of the reservist for the period of service would cause "serious harm" to the business. The application must be made within seven days of the date of service or deemed service of the call-out notice.

Employers are under no obligation to continue paying reservist employees during their absence on military operations. Within limits, the Ministry of Defence will make up the difference between a reservist's service pay and their normal wages or salary. Employers may apply to an adjudication officer for financial assistance to cover costs reasonably incurred in advertising for and recruiting replacement employees, and allowances to cover other non-recurring costs (Reserve Forces (Call-out and Recall) (Financial Assistance) Regulations 2005 (SI 2005/859)).

From 1 October 2014, small and medium-sized businesses can claim an additional "employer's payment" from the Ministry of Defence, as an incentive to employers that employ reservists (Reserve Forces (Payments to Employers and Partners) Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/2410)). The payment is £500 for each month that the employee is mobilised, pro rated for part-time employees and pro rated where the mobilisation covers only part of the month. The employer's payment is paid monthly in arrears on the last working day of every calendar month. Claims for an employer's payment may not be made more than four weeks after the reservist's period of service has finished, or four weeks after the termination of their employment if earlier, unless the adjudication officer agrees to an extended period. The employer's payment is available to businesses with an annual turnover of not more than £25.9 million and no more than 250 employees. It is not available to public authorities.

A reservist employee has the qualified right under s.1 of the Reserve Forces (Safeguard of Employment) Act 1985 to be reinstated in their former job after demobilisation. To exercise their right to reinstatement, the reservist must write to their former employer, not later than the third Monday after demobilisation (s.3), specifying a date within 21 days of that time limit on which he or she will be available for employment (s.4(1)). This time limit may be extended if the reservist is not available for employment due to sickness or other reasonable cause (s.4(2)). The reservist's application for reinstatement expires 13 weeks after it was made if he or she has not been reinstated by this point (s.3(4)). If the reservist still wants to be reinstated, he or she will have to renew the application in writing (unless proceedings are pending before a reinstatement committee). Each renewal expires 13 weeks from the day it was made. A former employer's obligation to reinstate a reservist is discharged if the reservist does not return to work within six months after their military service has ended (s.1(4)(b)).

The period of service in the armed forces does not break continuity of employment, provided that the reservist employee returns to work within six months of the last day of their military service (see Continuous employment > Determining continuous employment > Reinstatement after military service).

An employee who is dismissed for a reason connected with their membership of a reserve force may bring a claim for unfair dismissal even if they do not have two years' continuous service (s.108(5) of the Employment Rights Act 1996).

The Government has published guidance on the rights and responsibilities for reservists and employers and a guide for employers on employing reservists.

Additional resources on members of the volunteer reserve forces

FAQs

Policies and documents

"How to" guidance

Liveflo

Quick reference

Complaints to an employment tribunal

Complaints of an employer's refusal or failure to allow an employee (or worker) to take a reasonable amount of paid or unpaid time off work in the circumstances described above (or, as appropriate, a refusal or failure to pay an employee his or her normal wages or salary during such time off), or complaints of an employer's failure to follow the prescribed procedure in relation to an employee's right to make a request in relation to study or training or rejection of such a request on incorrect facts, will be heard by an employment tribunal.

An employee has no need to resign in order to pursue their statutory rights in this respect, and may not lawfully be dismissed or selected for redundancy for doing so (see below).

Additional resources on complaints to an employment tribunal

Quick reference

Dismissal or selection for redundancy

An employee may not lawfully be dismissed or selected for redundancy for exercising or proposing to exercise their statutory right to a period of paid or unpaid time off work or their statutory right to make a request in relation to study or training; or for challenging or questioning the employer's refusal or failure to acknowledge those rights; or for bringing proceedings against the employer before an employment tribunal or court (ss.104, 104E and 105 of the Employment Rights Act 1996).

Key references

Legislation

Parental Leave Directive (96/34/EC)
Directive 97/75/EC "amending and extending to the United Kingdom, Directive 96/34/EC"
Reserve Forces (Safeguard of Employment) Act 1985
Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992
Employment Rights Act 1996
Employment Relations Act 1999
Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009
Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977 (SI 1977/500)
Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations 1996 (SI 1996/1513)
Maternity and Parental Leave etc Regulations 1999 (SI 1999/3312)
Transnational Information and Consultation of Employees Regulations 1999 (SI 1999/3323)
Right to Time Off for Study or Training Regulations 2001 (SI 2001/2801)
Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006 (SI 2006/1031)
Employee Study and Training (Procedural Requirements) Regulations 2010 (SI 2010/155)
Employee Study and Training (Eligibility, Complaints and Remedies) Regulations 2010 (SI 2010/156)

Codes of practice

Acas code of practice on time off for trade union duties and activities (including guidance on time off for union learning representatives)
Consulting workers on health and safety: Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977 (as amended) and Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations 1996 (as amended): Approved Codes of Practice and guidance

Guidance

Time off for family and dependants