Your right to time off for training

 Time off for briefings?

Officials of recognised trade unions are entitled to time off from work for trade union training. Section 168(2) of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 states that an employer must permit trade union representatives to take time off during their working hours for the purpose of undergoing training in aspects of industrial relations.

Time allowed

The law states that trade union representatives should be given 'reasonable' time off for training. An employer who unreasonably refuses time off to officials of recognised trade unions for the purpose of training as described above is ultimately answerable to an Employment/Industrial Tribunal. This is similarly the case for withholding pay.


An NASUWT Representative must be paid for this time off at the level they would have earned had they worked during the time taken off. The right to payment for time off includes a right to be paid for all time off, including that covered by a separate contract with the same employer (e.g. during the lunch hour or after the end of school). The additional implication of this is that all directed hours that the NASUWT Representative would have worked on the days taken off for training must be credited to the Representative as though s/he had actually worked them.

Informing the employer

The NASUWT Representative should always give the employer as much notice as possible of their wish to attend the NASUWT training course. If the employer asks for a copy of the course programme, the Representative should provide one. The NASUWT Representative should also inform the employer of where the course is being held and how much time off is required.

Your right to time off for training


Whilst the NASUWT Representative is on the course, it is the employer's responsibility to ensure that the Representative's job is done. It is wrong, for example, that the Representative should be asked to gain the agreement of their colleagues to cover classes as a condition of attending a trade union course. The law does not tell employers how to carry out their responsibility but simply places the responsibility upon them

NASUWT advice

If a Representative is refused time off, or allowed time off but without pay, the Local Association Secretary or National Executive Member should be informed immediately.

NASUWT Prides itself on the quality of the training courses that it offers.

Elected Union Representatives, Union Learning Representatives and Local Association Officers have a legal right to reasonable time off with pay to attend training courses related to their union roles. NASUWT courses fall well within accepted definitions of what is reasonable.  

Health & Safety Representatives have a legal right to as much time off with pay as is necessary to enable them to carry out their role.   If you have any difficulty in securing agreement to your time off, contact your Local Association Secretary or Regional Centre for advice. 

Further detailed information is available from NASUWT headquarters on request and is also sent to all course applicants.