A decision to decline a request for study leave and financial support
An employee applied to their agency for study assistance. They requested paid study leave and financial support to attend a professional course. The course fees were several thousand dollars.
In the employee's view, the agency had budgeted an amount of money per employee for professional development, and the employee considered that money should be granted to them to attend the course. The employee also referred to other colleagues who had attended that same course in the past.
The agency declined the application, as they considered the course was not relevant to the employee's role in the agency, and because the employee was not eligible for that level of financial support.
The agency’s study support policy referred to supporting study that was directly relevant to the employee’s role or to the agency’s interests more broadly. Specifically, leave and financial support may be granted where that support is directly related to the employee’s current primary duties and/or likely career progression with the agency.
Importantly, the decision to grant an application was not an employee entitlement. It was granted at the discretion of a delegate of the agency.
In making their decision, the agency applied a matrix which assessed the relevance of any proposed course to the employee’s current and/or future role and the needs of the agency. In accordance with the matrix results, the employee was found not to be eligible for either financial support or study leave.
On review, we considered the agency had appropriately assessed the employee's request in line with the relevant policy. We considered the agency had acted fairly, and had treated the employee in accordance with the policy, and in the same manner as other employees. We noted that the employees who had been approved to attend that course in the past, had done so because the course was directly relevant to their roles in the agency. This was not the case for the employee in this matter, as the course was not relevant to their current role, nor to the work of their division. We did note that the employee was entitled to a modest amount of money to maintain their specialist skills, however that money could not be used towards the course the employee wanted to attend, as the course was not relevant to the specialist skills required for their role.
We recommended the agency's decision be confirmed as fair and reasonable in the circumstances.