Can you be forced to take unpaid weekend training?

I have been asked to go on a training course for work (first aid) over two Saturdays for six hours each time, but I won’t be paid. Can they do this?

I understand that you have been asked to go on a first aid training course for work, which will take place over two Saturdays. You have asked whether your employer can force you to do this.

Whether or not your employer can insist that you attend the training course depends on the terms of your contract of employment and you should check this in detail. Under normal circumstances, your contract of employment would set out the hours that you are required to work (your ‘normal working hours’) and would state that you will be paid for the hours that you work at an agreed rate. If the courses then fall outside of your agreed hours, you would not be obliged to attend.

However, your contract may state that your employer may require you to work extra hours and/or attend training courses (perhaps because this is a requirement for your job role) and that you will receive no additional remuneration for attending. If this is the case, then unfortunately your employer can require you to attend and you may face disciplinary action if you do not attend, especially if this is a job requirement. There may be an argument that the requirement to insist that you work on a Saturday is indirectly discriminatory on the grounds of sex if you are unable to attend due to childcare commitments. If this is the case, you should raise this with your employer and see if your attendance at the course can be rescheduled to a time when you are able to attend.

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