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Learning Time Entitlement


Learning Time Entitlement

II work for a NHS board. A recurring issue is time off to attend learning events and/or complete study. Some of this is for formal CPD requirements - for the individual to retain professional registration. For others the it is for a general updating of skills to keep up with the requirements of the job.

I have 3 questions:

1. Where does responsibility for CPD lie: with the individual (who owns and uses the skills, and can take them elsewhere) or the employer (who pays for the individual to use those skills in a professional role)?

2. Should time-off for learning be pro-rata? For example, two individuals - one full-time, the other part-time – are both required to attend a CPD course lasting 2 days. As an employer we are still able to get 3 days work from the full-time person that week – for the part-time person we only get half a day.

3. Can anyone offer a fair and clear formula for setting the amount of time-off that employees are entitled to:

I would appreciate your thoughts.



Colin Boxer

7 Responses

  1. CPD and study time
    This is something that should be set out in your training/education policy so that everyone knows where they stand.
    Most commonly it is for the individual to take responsibility for maintaining their CPD and their professional status. If the organisation requires the person to belong to the relevant professional body, then it is usual for the organisation to give the time for CPD activity irrespective of whether they work part or full time. In return, they may want a say in just what CPD the person undertakes (both the what and the how).
    Different professional bodies have different requirements so it is not possible to have a single, all-purpose formula. Dentists, for example, do about 50 hours a year.
    It may be possible to have a policy where the employer only supports formal or regulated CPD activity, which may be capped at, say, 30 hours per year. That would be a matter for HR to negotiate.
    If professional status, and therefore CPD, is not required as part of the job then the employer’s responsibility is discretionary. However, to avoid conflict or confusion, I would suggest that this is also covered in the policy. Many public sector employers will give some support to CPD – in time if not money – if it is of some relevance and benefit to the organisation. The limited extent of this support should be in the policy and be clear to all concerned. I’d be cautious about labelling this as ‘time-off’ and would stick with something like ‘essential study leave’.
    Finally, there is always the option to offer an amount of unpaid study leave for non work related CPD ie important to the person (perhaps for their future career) but not relevant to their current role.
    I hope that helps.

  2. Do you need them to have the skills to do your work?
    Hi Colin
    would like to echo Grahams comments and add the rider that make sure you treat full time and part time equally.
    For a 2 day course for a part time worker working 50% of hours, this is the equivalent of 4 working days. You cannot expect a part time worker to do more than their expect hours. For example lets say they only work mornings – and have to give the two afternoons as their own time… yet you are paying the full time employee! Be very careful here.

    As for who is responsible – interesting one. If you are paying them their salary and you are paying the course fee – you are responsible. If you need them to have these skills (they joined you with them) you have a responsibility to keep them up to date.

    Especially as 80% of your competition is other NHS trusts – if they leave there is a good chance the NHS will benefit.

    As a business strategy you will need to apply what ever decision you make across all wards, departments and sites. There is a good chance that the nurse already reads and does some CPD in their own time (most of the nurses I know do).

    Bottom line is if you don’t pay – will you sack them for failing to update?

    I suspect you need to identify what is core (min) and what is long term developmental and not going to be of value to them in the role they are currently undertaking for you now (clinical not managerial skills)

    A tough one!

  3. Time off?
    Graham is SSSOOOOOOOOOO right to point out..
    “I’d be cautious about labelling this as ‘time-off'”

    I know it seems purely semantic but the nomenclature IS important. 1) Many of my past and present clients use e-learning, and people frequently report that whilst they are working on the modules someone (often their boss!) will ask if they haven’t got any “work” to be getting on with!
    2) How often have trainers heard a no-show justified as “I don’t have time to come to the training course, I’ve got work to do.”


    I will now get off my soapbox

  4. Not an easy issue
    Thanks for your comments so far – it is helpful to air this issue.

    Firstly, you are right about the language I used – it is referred to so often as ‘time-off’ that I have absorbed the term without thinking. Rus’s experience with e-learning is one I am familiar with and a reminder to watch my tongue (or keyboard).

    As Graham has sugggested, we have attempted to provide guidance in a our L&D Policy. However, with so many professional groups within the NHS it is a challenge to find a fair formula – the more I have tried to take account of the different needs/expectations, the more complicated the guidance became – and the more unfair it started to seem.

    I don’t think anyone here argues that some CPD is essential for the person to remain current and effective in their role. However, we are a very small island board, and the effect on service is perhaps greater than elsewhere – we often can’t provide cover because it doesn’t exist locally. This also reflects on my other question about part-time/full time – we will certainly take care with it, but you maybe understand the frustration that (for example) if a part-time dentist has to do 50 hours CPD that represents a more significant proportion of the time they spend actually applying their skills than for the full time person. That’s the challenge for the managers who have to plan service delivery – and why this question arose.

    Mike is right to point out that a lot of CPD is done by people in their own time – I am trying to be very careful to encourage this and not destroy the goodwill.



  5. in response to your later comment
    I understand your concern about “expecting” people to do CPD in their own time
    (my acronym for this is LIST- Learning In Spare Time!)
    how about lunchtime CPD bite sized events with a free lunch thrown in….45 minutes of focussed learning with no travel time or downtime…many of your folk would have stayed in anyway and the free lunch saves a trip to the sandwich bar!
    Might be worth a try

  6. CPD time
    Firstly, thanks for your further comments. It is always good to hear from the person who posed the original question.
    I sympathise with your situation; there are clearly no easy answers.
    I’d just add to my earlier comments that CPD can come in many forms, including reading, web conferencing, etc. which need not take people off island. In the example I gave – dentists – 250 hours CPD over 5 years is a legal requirement not an option. However, only 75 of those hours are certifiable (this changes to 150 and 50 hours respectively later this year). Different professional bodies have different conditions on what constitutes CPD, how it is recorded and how it is checked. I don’t think you can be expected to keep in touch with all of these varying conditions. So, you might put in your policy that each professional must maintain their CPD using the most cost and time efficient means possible and that you will give the time automatically for the minimum certifiable level of CPD study. Any additional time can be applied for but the individual should make a reasoned case for why that is the best option. Although giving such extra time would technically be discetionary, I would not want to see medical staff short-changed on CPD due to technicalities.
    This would put the onus on the individual to fully manage their CPD choices and would give you some option to manage the absence issue where off-island CPD is more by choice than necessity.
    Just a thought.

  7. Practical ideas
    Thanks again. The lunchtime sessions are something that we do, but it is helpful to keep in mind that these contribute to CPD – I think some take it as a given, but I’m sure others miss the opportunity to include it.

    Graham , I liked your wording for putting in our policy that “each professional must maintain their CPD using the most cost and time efficient means possible and that you will give the time automatically for the minimum certifiable level of CPD study.” This would allow me to achieve my aim of keeping the policy clear and fair.




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