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Training: statutory and mandatory

A guide for RCN members about statutory and mandatory training.

Statutory training

This type of training is usually required by law or where a statutory body has instructed an organisation to provide training on the basis of specific legislation (i.e. the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999). Employers often describe this as ‘essential’ or ‘compulsory’ training and it ensures staff have the knowledge to maintain a healthy and safe working environment for themselves and their colleagues. 

What this can include

In the NHS, all new employees are required to undertake core health and safety awareness and training. This usually includes:

  • awareness of the local health and safety policy
  • awareness of the control of substances hazardous to health (COSHH)
  • when and how to report injuries, diseases and dangerous occurrences (RIDDOR)
  • fire safety awareness training  
  • manual handling training
  • basic risk assessment training
  • annual updates in essential areas of fire safety and manual handling. 

Starting a new job

When you start a new job you attend an induction programme, usually within the first month of starting work. During your first year you are usually required to complete the statutory and mandatory training sessions that were not covered in your induction. Attendance at statutory and mandatory training usually forms part of your terms and conditions. 

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Mandatory training

Mandatory training is compulsory training that is determined essential by an organisation for the safe and efficient delivery of services. This type of training is designed to reduce organisational risks and comply with local or national policies and government guidelines. Some organisations use the terms essential or compulsory training as a ‘catch all’ to cover both mandatory and statutory training.

Mandatory training might include: 

  • blood transfusion processes
  • child protection
  • clinical record keeping
  • complaints handling
  • conflict resolution (managing violence and aggression)
  • consent
  • display and screen equipment
  • equality awareness and eliminating bullying and harassment
  • incident reporting
  • hand hygiene
  • hazardous substances
  • infection prevention and control
  • information governance
  • mental capacity and safeguarding adults
  • medicines handling and management
  • medical devices
  • patient slips, trips and falls
  • personal protective equipment
  • resuscitation
  • venous thromboembolism
  • raising concerns and whistleblowing.

Attending mandatory training

We believe mandatory training should be undertaken during work time. Your employer may require you to attend training or updates on your off duty - you should, however, be given the equivalent time off to compensate. If you work regular night shifts your employer should take this into account to ensure you can attend any regular training updates.

Any work related training is counted as 'working time' under the Working Time Regulations 1998 and as such count as work when weekly hours are being calculated.

Read more on working time and breaks.

Training and updates

Mandatory training usually requires attending annual updates, dependent on the role and organisational requirements.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) does not set specific requirements stating how often mandatory training must be undertaken or completed. However, the NMC does require that registrants remain trained and competent. Your employer is free to set their own protocols and policies on training which all staff are contractually obliged to follow.

Employer obligations 

There are many frameworks under which employers should be delivering mandatory training. The NHS for example is required to meet the standards for better health, NHS Resolution risk management standards and the Care Quality Commission inspection criteria. Frameworks will vary depending on:

  • the risks encountered in the working environment
  • the needs of the workforce
  • insurers' standards
  • governance and legal frameworks in place
  • country-specific requirements
  • equality and diversity.
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Equality and diversity considerations

The Equality Act 2010 places a responsibility on employers to eliminate discrimination, harassment and victimisation, and promote equal opportunities. This means employers should consider those protected under the Act when designing and delivering statutory and mandatory training. The employer should consider what adjustments can be made for staff with a disability. This this could be to ensure the times and locations and delivery of the training is suitable and accessible. The employer should remove any physical barriers, or provide extra equipment or aids where required.       

The Equality Act 2010 places a responsibility on employers to ensure any training policy and practice does not disadvantage or negatively impact protected groups. For example: arranging mandatory training sessions/updates only on certain days of the week which might prevent employees with a religious belief or faith from attending.

If you share a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010 and are experiencing discrimination please call us for advice and to discuss local support arrangements.

For more information please see the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) publication, Your rights to equality at work: training, development, promotion and transfer (EHRC, 2011). 

If you are based in Northern Ireland, see Equality Commission Northern Ireland

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Agency and bank worker essential training

Your contract with the temporary work agency should outline your right to access essential/ mandatory training to ensure you work in a safe manner. Common training areas covered should include:

  • data protection
  • health and safety at work
  • control of substances hazardous to health (COSHH)
  • fire safety awareness
  • infection control
  • manual handling
  • lone working
  • safeguarding vulnerable adults
  • safeguarding children.

Agency and bank workers do not have the statutory right to request ‘time to train’ or paid time off to study.

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Other training for agency and bank workers

Generally, agency and bank nurses should receive mandatory training, but usually need to self-fund any further career development. NHS Professionals (bank only flexible workers) can access the majority of their online training courses.

We can provide careers advice to help with your development.

We also be running local study days, workshops, short courses and seminars in your area. Please go to the RCN events and conferences page for further information.

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