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Training employees – your questions answered

By Beatrice Thomas

Training has myriad benefits for staff and is a key part of employee development programs in most businesses.

But can you make training mandatory, and how do you get workers to embrace any training you offer?

We answer some common questions.

Can you make training mandatory?  

Training in employment can be divided into two categories – mandatory or optional.

You can make it a compulsory part of an employee’s work, if the direction to attend the training is both lawful and reasonable.  

Whether mandating training is lawful comes down to whether it fits within the scope of a person’s employment.

If the training relates to the job the employee is carrying out, it may be lawful to make it compulsory.

When determining if it is reasonable to make training compulsory, look whether the training during work hours or at a reasonable time for the employee to attend.

In addition, consider whether the training is required for your employee to perform their role.

Do you need to pay for the training?

If the training is necessary for your employee to carry out their work and if you have directed them to take that training, the onus is normally on you to pay for it.

In addition, you need to pay your employee for the time they spend in training, treating that time like regular work hours.

Penalties, overtime, travel allowances or other entitlements may apply during time spent in training.  

If the training is optional, you are not usually required to pay for it, except where it may be stated in a person’s contract of employment.  

If the training relates to a qualification or inherent requirement of the job that they carry out ahead of starting, e.g. a TAFE or university qualification, employers are generally not expected to pay for it.

Payment obligations should be set out in the relevant award, enterprise agreement or employment contract.

Can you incentivise employees to attend training?  

You may consider giving employees a bonus to attend training, but this can cause some issues.

The benefits of providing a bonus for training include:

  • increasing morale amongst staff;
  • employee engagement; and
  • promoting a culture of learning. 

It is generally acceptable to provide benefits for employees who attend training, but you need to consider who may be likely to miss out.

For example, some employees might not be able to attend training due to family or caring commitments.   

Provide multiple training sessions to provide a choice, or flexible options such as online sessions or webinars may increase the ability of your employees to attend training.  

Incentive schemes may also set expectations for future scenarios, so you may want to clarify any bonus or incentive as an isolated event.

For more advice on this issue, contact CCIWA’s Employee Relations Advice Centre on (08) 9365 7660 or advice@cciwa.com.

Training has myriad benefits for staff and is a key part of employee development programs in most businesses.

But can you make training mandatory, and how do you get workers to embrace any training you offer?

We answer some common questions.

Can you make training mandatory?  

Training in employment can be divided into two categories – mandatory or optional.

You can make it a compulsory part of an employee’s work, if the direction to attend the training is both lawful and reasonable.  

Whether mandating training is lawful comes down to whether it fits within the scope of a person’s employment.

If the training relates to the job the employee is carrying out, it may be lawful to make it compulsory.

When determining if it is reasonable to make training compulsory, look whether the training during work hours or at a reasonable time for the employee to attend.

In addition, consider whether the training is required for your employee to perform their role.

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