Last updated: 09.01.19

What is the difference between Statutory and Mandatory Training?

When discussing issues of compliance, particularly in relation to training and qualifications, we often see the terms ‘statutory training’ and ‘mandatory training’, which explain certain types of training that employees have to take as part of their job. The issue is that these two phrases can sometimes be a little confusing for both employees and employers, particularly as in everyday speech, the words ‘statutory’ and ‘mandatory’ can often mean roughly the same thing, and things that are statutory are generally also mandatory. However, when it comes to these two terms, they aren’t quite the same, and it helps to understand what they mean. This is especially true in health and social care, where these terms are most commonly encountered. In this article, we’re going to take a look at what these phrases mean, why they’re different, and what they cover.

Top level differences

What is Mandatory training?

Mandatory training is the phrase most commonly encountered (though it can mean different things as we’ll cover shortly), and the key to remembering what it covers is to consider it more specific to the role itself rather than the sector that the role is in. You’ll generally find that mandatory training takes place when an employee is inducted into a role, and the various elements of it are considered important to carrying out the job effectively and safely. It’s important to note that mandatory training is sometimes legally required as well as being considered essential by management, but that doesn’t always mean that the training is statutory rather than mandatory.

What is Statutory training?

This then brings us onto statutory training itself. Statutory training is usually more sector-specific, and you’ll find that it’s most commonly encountered in the care and healthcare sector. When we talk about statutory training, we’re generally talking about sector-specific training that is legally required as part of running a service. This can come from central government, local authorities, or other governing bodies. Various commissioning groups too will insist upon certain types of training. The idea is that this type of training is essential to running a safe and effective care service.

Much of the confusion arises because both types of training are considered compulsory or essential by the employer, so it’s difficult to work out which is which. And in truth, in many cases it’s not particularly significant as to which type of training is which, provided the employer is meeting the obligations of any governing body, and the employee has the skills they need. Further complicating things is that within some organisations and even training providers, the phrase ‘mandatory training’ covers both mandatory and statutory training types, because after all, statutory training is mandatory.

Statutory training in practice

In order to help understand a little more about statutory training and what it is, we’re going to take a quick look at some examples of what might be considered statutory.

The Care Quality Commission is an executive department of the Department of Health and Social Care, and it’s responsible for overseeing standards of health and social care businesses and organisations in the United Kingdom. It regulates and inspects these organisations, which means that it is responsible for deciding which types of training are essential to carrying out a good service in this respect. As a result, if it mandates any training as a result of legislation, this training would be considered to be statutory.

Under CQC rules, and indeed various other pieces of legislation, including broad-remit ones such as the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, there are a variety of types of training that everyone under their remit must take. Manual handling, fire safety, risk assessment, control of substances hazardous to health (COSHH) and incident reporting are the most frequently encountered types of statutory training in the health and social care sector.

Mandatory training in practice

Now we know a little more about statutory training, and how the phrases are used, we can see that mandatory training is generally a little bit different. Mandatory training isn’t necessarily insisted upon by legislation (though it may be in other industries, organisations or roles), but is still essential for getting the job done effectively and safely.

Food hygiene training is a good example of training that is, within the care industry, often considered mandatory, but is not statutory. Let’s take a care home for example. Looking after the elderly residents means being aware of every aspect of their wellbeing, and as a result, it’s important that all of the food that they are eating is safe to eat. Care staff and chefs working at the premises may not be legally required to undertake food hygiene training, but that doesn’t mean that the organisation doesn’t think it’s essential that they do.

Similarly, if we think about some of the skills that are essential to carrying out various roles in the health and social care sector, we realise that there are many different types of training that would almost certainly be considered essential to a role. Safeguarding is a very important part of many jobs, but individual staff training for specific roles is not necessarily legally mandated. Overall safeguarding responsibilities for the organisation might be legally observed, but not necessarily down to role level. As a result, things like safeguarding children and adults are often types of mandatory training that particular members of staff must undertake.

Manual handling is another good example. While several pieces of legislation do insist that employers mandate manual handling training, it may be the case that certain employees need different and more specific types of training essential to their role. In health and social care, moving people might be an important task, so specific training for this type of handling might be mandatory.


If you’re still finding it difficult to discern which type of training is which, remember that in simple terms, statutory training is compulsory because of laws, mandatory training is compulsory because of the job role, but both types are technically mandatory, and as a result in some instances you’ll hear mandatory refer to all types of training that a person has to undertake, for whatever reason. You can see more examples about the different training types in this article about the NHS specifically.

Where to find mandatory and statutory training

Training is sometimes carried out within an organisation - indeed, larger groups such as the NHS may have their own employees qualified to train in things like fire safety and manual handling. However, for both mandatory and statutory training, businesses and organisations will usually look to external training providers for this service. Sometimes specific, accredited courses must be undertaken, and sometimes they’re more casual and purely knowledge based. In both cases, online compliance training is increasingly popular as an alternative to away days.

Here at Virtual College, we’re pleased to be able to offer a huge number of courses covering numerous sectors, industries and even specific job roles. Many of our courses will be appropriate for meeting mandatory and statutory requirements, and we’re even able to offer bespoke training using out learning management system. Click here to find out more.

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