Matched time for ESOL - Questions & answers

A matched time agreement is where the employer agrees to "match" each hour of ESOL learning the staff member attends in their own time with an hour in company time at the standard rate of pay.

How much matched time does an employer give?

It depends on the agreement. Some set a maximum amount of hours for each person. Others set out how much is allowed per level so that the learner can get more if they progress to the next level.

Aim for a minimum of 30 hours. The average time to progress a level is 60 hours of learning so 30 hours of matched time makes sense.

What else can be covered in the agreement?

Agreements also set out how many from each sector/department can attend at any one time and there is often a standard clause about release depending on the needs of the business.

Some agreements require the employee to put their hours in first to show their commitment with the employer putting hours in later in the course. For example the employee attends the first 10 hours of the course in their own time, the next 10 hours is matched and the employer then put in the last 10 hours.

Time can also be given for assessments and exams.

What are the benefits of a matched time agreement?

Attendance on matched time courses is usually much better than those where the employee attends in their own time. This means that learners progress much more quickly. Learners' motivation is also much better if they know the employer is investing in them.

Why should employers agree to match time agreements?

The employer has a responsibility to make sure that their staff have the skills to do their job safely. If they need to improve their English to be safe then the employer should ensure they contribute.

It's an investment to make sure that staff work effectively and productively.

Good English skills across the workplace improve communication and build staff morale and teamwork and improve productivity.

What are informal agreements?

Informal agreements happen, for instance, when a specific course start requires an agreement between the union and the employer. Being informal they are not put in writing and signed by both parties. These types of agreements can work well when there is a good relationship with the employer but after a period of time it is difficult to refer to what was agreed exactly if there are changes in management.