The training/educational leave is a regulatory instrument which, either by statutory right and/or through collective agreements, sets out the conditions under which employees may be granted temporary leave from work for learning purposes. Furthermore, the training leave allows the employee to be absent from the workplace for education and training purposes without losing the right to return to work later on or other social rights connected to a current employment.
The concept of training leave covers quite heterogeneous arrangements. One of the key dimensions concerns whether the training leave is granted for a comparatively long period (for, example, three months, up to two years) or for a much shorter period (one or a few days, up to one or a few weeks). Another key dimension concerns whether the leave is paid (i.e. includes continuous wage payment), unpaid or a wage replacement/allowance (although lower than the actual wage) is available to the employee for the time off work.
When the training leave is granted for a longer period, it allows an individual to temporarily return to full-time education and training and to acquire or complete a qualification based on an extended educational programme. Such leave is typically accompanied by a wage replacement payment directed to the individual (to compensate foregone income) and covered by an external funding source (e.g. the public employment service, a training fund). Alternatively, a long unpaid leave may be combined with a grant available independent of the individual’s employment status (as for example, in Sweden). Lastly, individuals may need to use their own financial resources (savings).
Moreover, in case of long-term leave, various regulations might specify whether or not particular rights from the employer (e.g. statutory yearly pay rises) or the social security system (e.g. years of contribution to old-age pension schemes) are negatively affected.
Shorter spells of training leave are granted for short vocational courses. In addition, in various countries, employers are obliged to provide days off for their employees to pursue part-time studies, for preparing or sitting exams in particular. For short leaves, employers are often obliged to continue wage payment (they are covering the wage costs from their own resources but may be entitled to wage compensation from an external source: training fund or State subsidy/grant).
Moreover, a right for unpaid days off might be granted (i.e. employer is not obliged to pay a salary, though may contribute voluntarily). For short time leaves, employees do not lose any of their social rights from the employer or the social security system.
In some countries, for example Hungary, training leave is only stipulated for attending mandatory training (CEDEFOP 2011), which the employer organisation is responsible for. Similar obligations for employers to provide particular types of formal/certified training are present in the majority of Member States and are not reported in this database as cases of training leave. Beyond formal training leave schemes, based on a law or a binding collective agreement, it might be widely shared practice in some countries and sectors and for some groups of employees to provide paid or unpaid training leave. However, these voluntary arrangements are not reported in the database.
 (CEDEFOP 2011, 16)
Distribution of training leaves in the EU