Criteria used to assess employment relations education course approval

Guidance on critical success factors and the criteria used to assess whether an ERE course will be approved.

Criteria for approval

Employment relations education courses are approved for two purposes:

  • to exercise the statutory right to educational leave for eligible employees under Part 7 of the Employment Relations Act 2000.
  • to enable funding for courses to be obtained from the Employment Relations Education Contestable Fund.

To exercise the statutory right to ERE leave

To gain approval of their course applicants must ensure that their course furthers the objective of ERE leave set out in section 70 of the Employment Relations Act 2000, that is, to increase employees' knowledge about employment relations for the purpose of:

  • improving relations among unions, employees, and employers, and
  • promoting the object of the Act, especially the duty of good faith.

ERE courses should also recognise the complementary legislation governing employment relations within which ERE courses must operate, which includes (but is not limited to) the Human Rights Act 1993, the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 and the Privacy Act 1993.

In particular ERE courses should be designed to provide the skills and knowledge relevant in employment relations in a manner that recognises and reduces current gaps in the access to information, resources, and skills.

Criteria for consistency with the Act

Courses may deliver skill development and knowledge, including but not limited to the following areas:

  • The principles underlying good faith behaviour, including the specifics of any code of good faith applicable to the employees and employers concerned
  • Behaviours and processes that enhance the good faith relationship
  • The ability to assess and convey to others information exchanged during employment interactions, and
  • Participating in the institutions established under the Act.

Quality assurance criteria

Applicants must provide in respect of each course for which they are seeking approval:

  • a statement that they have checked the list of approved ERE courses to see whether an existing course might suit their purpose
  • an outcome statement which reflects the expected effect of the course on individuals participating
  • a programme for the day(s)
  • an indication of the standard of qualifications and/or experience and/or training of those delivering the course
  • details of the resources to be provided to the participants. Applicants are required to submit all materials that will be used to teach the course(s) (eg manuals, resources or participant workbooks)
  • a statement of how the provider will assess the participants' understanding of the course material
  • a copy of the evaluation processes to be undertaken to ascertain whether the course has achieved its stated objectives
  • a profile of the target group for the programme.

Information for ERE providers - critical success factors for ERE initiatives

The Employment Relations Education Advisory Committee (EREAC) commissioned evaluation research on ERE courses, and subsequently organised a two-day conference on “Evaluating Workplace Learning: Identifying Success”. These two events provided us with clear guidance on how to make courses and other education initiatives successful in order to achieve learning outcomes and build productive relationships in the workplace.

Pre-course/initiative factors

Right people

  • Be clear who the course is intended for (type of organisational role, type of prior learning experience or not, etc)
  • Actively encourage line manager support of participants
  • Helpful to have a critical mass (ie more than one person) attending from each workplace

Right information

  • Provide pre-course preparation material in order to allow the course to focus on making learning relevant to actions in the workplace
  • Collect background information from participants (eg reasons for attending; challenges they might anticipate in implementing the learning; learning experience) and have the facilitator/educator build on this

Right targeting

  • Have a title for the course which clearly conveys either its content or its desired outcome
  • Clearly target the course, not only to get the right people, but also to quantify the benefits to the individual and the workplace (thus encouraging line manager support)
  • Consider developing the course collaboratively with a trade union or an employer group

Course or initiative delivery factors

Delivery mechanism

  • Ensure that the delivery mechanism (conventional course; online learning; dvd; txt; mixed methods, etc) matches the desired learning outcomes and quality standards
  • Consider delivering the course jointly with a trade union or an employer group

Relevance and reality

  • Use of real scenarios enhances relevance, and facilitates action planning


  • Opportunities to share experiences, ideas and concerns; and activities which help participants to identify how they can use the learning when they return to work


  • It is very important to plan for the learning to have impact back in the workplace, hence action planning or similar processes to really integrate practical ways to use the learning back at work, including strategies to overcome barriers

Post-course/initiative factors

Realise the benefits of ERE

  • The realisation of potential benefits to both the individual and the workplace should be followed up on at a later date – either by the ERE provider, or by the participant or by the workplace (could be set up as part of their buy-in prior to the ERE)

Workplace support

  • Resources, time and encouragement are often needed for participants to realise on the ERE. This needs to come from line managers (see pre-course), and from workmates
  • For example a letter from the education provider to the relevant employer and/or union official to say that the person has taken part in the educational initiative and to suggest activities to capitalise on their learning in the workplace

Opportunities to apply learning

  • Immediate workplace opportunities to use and share what has been learnt are important
  • Expectation or incentive to apply the learning is also helpful

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Page last revised: 06 May 2024

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