Conference to pay or not to pay?

Paula Elliott

| 26 Posts

Chartered Member

29 Jan, 2014 12:52

I have some staff members who wish to go on a conference as they think it will be valuable to their learning and also networking. We currently pay for training courses but have not come across conferences in the past.

Am I required to pay for the conference fee as well as the staff members normal hours? One of the conferences involve travelling outside of London. With normal training courses we pay for the travel costs so would this come into it too?

I am wanting to say that the conference will not be paid and the staff will need to take annual leave but want to make sure this is ok.

I am concerned that my approach may reduce morale.

There will also have to be some consideration to a policy that outlines what is paid for and not in the terms of training and conferences.

I come from a previous industry where everything was paid training and conferences but my budgets are a little smaller now.

Thank you in advance

  • Lucy

    | 111 Posts

    Chartered Fellow

    29 Jan, 2014 12:58

    Hi Paula

    Do the group of staff have to put together some form of justification as to how the business would benefit from attendance and what improvements / contribution to performance it would make?

    Could you maybe support one or two on the understanding that they come back to work and share thier learning / key points with the wider group?

    Its always difficult with smaller budgets and I do empathise but surely there would be a negative business impact to have them all on leave to attend or allowing the full group to attend?  Obviously I dont know the numbers involved.  Could their PDP's be looked at to see who would benefit most as a way of choosing who needs to go?

    Just some ideas, hope they help.


  • Keith

    | 10642 Posts

    Chartered Fellow

    29 Jan, 2014 13:01

    I see conferences as evry little to training - if there is a business need and its gone through the TNA process then I would treat exactly the same after prioritisng against all other training needs. If its a jolly or of minimal benefit then it would get rejected.

    Would find it surprising if a group of staff "needed" to attend a conference.

  • Keith

    | 10642 Posts

    Chartered Fellow

    29 Jan, 2014 13:01

    In reply to Keith:

    "very little different" to training (in first line)
  • Steve Bridger

    | 7580 Posts

    Community Manager

    29 Jan, 2014 13:37

    Agree with Lucy.

    Oh, and they could always follow the conference hashtag. Maybe not ;)

  • David Perry

    | 5098 Posts

    Chartered Member

    29 Jan, 2014 15:30

    You may try asking the staff what specific benefits the company will get out of this.  
  • I wouldn't get bogged down in the difference between conferences and training as it gets very blurred! I manage our development budget. I ask for funding applications for any external activity to be approved by the head of department / line manager before funding requests are submitted to me and applications must provide detail of:

    1. Why this activity now?

    2. Why in house offerings are not suitable

    3. Links to acheivement personal / organisational objectives and strategy. If not listed as a development need in the most recent appraisal then more detail is required under point 1.

    4. Impact on business if the person does not attend

    5. How learning will be disseminated to colleagues - this is particularly helpful as I often have to say that I can only let one person attend and that person must ensure useful knowledge is shared.

    Then some judgement is required. If the detail you have been provided with is not sufficient to make a decision then say so and ask for more.


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