If my employer says I have to attend training outside my normal work hours, should I be paid for this?

If you are an apprentice, you must be paid for all on and off-the-job training you are required to attend. The Apprenticeship, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009 says that the whole of your apprenticeship must be delivered within your contracted hours under your employment contract.

In other words, apprentices must be paid for all time spent training or studying for a relevant qualification, whether at work or at a college or training organisation. The current minimum hourly rate for those aged 16 to 18 or aged 19 or over and in the first year of an apprenticeship is £3.50.

Where unions have been recognised, the apprentice rate is likely to exceed the statutory minimum.

If you are an hourly-paid worker, you must be paid at least the national minimum wage for all the hours you are contracted to work. This means that if you are under a contractual obligation to attend a training course even though it is outside your normal working hours (so that you can be disciplined if you don't go, or if you leave part way through without your employer’s consent), you are likely to be 'working' and you have a good argument that you should be paid the national minimum wage.

If you are on a monthly salary, the situation is more complicated. Whether or not you are entitled to be paid when on a training course outside your normal working hours will depend on what your written contract terms say, and on any training policy and/or on what you can negotiate with your employer on an ad hoc basis.

If you owe a contractual obligation to attend the course (so that you can be disciplined for failing to go), there is a good argument that the time spent on the course is working time. Effectively, you are engaged in compulsory overtime. However, the extent to which you are entitled to pay (or time off in lieu) will depend on your contract terms. Many salaried workers in the UK work many additional hours of unpaid overtime each year.

If you work in a unionised workplace, it is likely that your union will have negotiated an agreement on the treatment of time spent training outside normal working hours involving, for example, time off in lieu ('TOIL').

If a union is not recognised where you are, why not join one and find out how to organise at your workplace to see what can be negotiated with your employer? Use our Union Finder tool to help find the union most suited to you.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.