Is mandatory the same as compulsory

Best practices for compliance and implementation

Adherence to legislation and guidelines is vital in any regulated industry. The terms "mandatory" and "compulsory" frequently appear in policies and procedures, but their specific meanings can influence how organisations implement compliance measures. In this blog, Dr Richard Dune will explore whether "mandatory" is indeed the same as "compulsory" and what this means for businesses aiming to maintain high compliance standards.

Key definitions

  • Mandatory - Refers to something that is required by law or rules; it is obligatory. For instance, mandatory training courses are those that employees must complete to comply with statutory requirements.
  • Compulsory - Similar to mandatory, compulsory means something that must be done because it is required by law or a rule. In essence, both terms signify an obligation imposed by an authority.

Despite their apparent similarities, the context in which these terms are used can lead to different interpretations and applications.

Key facts and statistics

  • According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), there were 693,000 injuries at work in Great Britain in 2019/20, underscoring the importance of compliance with health and safety regulations.
  • The Care Quality Commission (CQC) requires mandatory training for all staff in regulated activities to ensure they meet the required standards of care.
  • A 2020 survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) found that 80% of organisations provide mandatory training to comply with legal requirements.

Importance of the subject matter

Understanding the precise requirements of mandatory and compulsory training is essential for compliance. Failure to adhere to these obligations can result in penalties, legal action, and reputational damage. For instance, non-compliance with mandatory health and safety training can lead to workplace accidents, increasing the risk of legal liabilities.

Recommended best practices for implementation

Clear definitions and policies

Organisations should define "mandatory" and "compulsory" within their policies to ensure clarity. This helps employees understand their obligations and the consequences of non-compliance.

Comprehensive training programs

Develop and implement comprehensive training programs that cover all mandatory and compulsory requirements. These should be tailored to meet the specific needs of your industry and regulatory body requirements, such as HSE, CQC, or Ofsted.

Regular updates and reviews

Regulatory requirements can change, so it’s crucial to review and update your training programs and policies regularly. For the latest guidelines, use reliable sources such as the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Utilise compliance management software

Employing compliance management software like ComplyPlus™ can streamline the management of training programs, ensuring that all mandatory and compulsory requirements are met. ComplyPlus™ offers a robust training and development platform, a central repository for compliance documents, and streamlined policy and procedure creation.

Understanding the nuances

While mandatory and compulsory training are often seen as synonymous, there are subtle differences in their application. For example, in the healthcare sector, mandatory training might include basic life support and infection control, which are required by the CQC. Compulsory training could refer to additional modules specific employers require to enhance skills beyond the basic statutory requirements.

Legal and regulatory frameworks

Different regulatory bodies use these terms differently. The HSE focuses on mandatory health and safety training, while the CQC emphasises the importance of mandatory training in ensuring quality care. Understanding the specific language these bodies use helps develop appropriate training programs.

Implementation strategies

  • Identify requirements - Based on industry regulations and internal policies, Assess your organisation's specific mandatory and compulsory training needs.
  • Develop training plans - Create detailed training plans that address all identified requirements, ensuring they are comprehensive and accessible to all employees.
  • Monitor compliance - Use tools like ComplyPlus™ to track training completion and compliance, ensuring all employees meet the required standards.
  • Feedback and improvement - Continuously gather feedback from training participants to improve and update training programs, keeping them relevant and effective.


  • Regular audits - Conduct regular audits of your training programs and compliance measures to ensure they meet current legal and regulatory standards.
  • Employee engagement - Foster a culture of compliance by engaging employees in the importance of mandatory and compulsory training.
  • Leverage technology - Utilise technology solutions like ComplyPlus™ to streamline compliance management and training delivery.


While "mandatory" and "compulsory" are often used interchangeably, understanding their specific meanings and implications is crucial for compliance. By clearly defining these terms and implementing best practices, organisations can ensure they meet all regulatory requirements, thereby safeguarding their operations and reputation.

Ensure your organisation is fully compliant with all mandatory and compulsory training requirements. Explore ComplyPlus™, our comprehensive compliance management software, to streamline your training programs and stay ahead in regulatory compliance. Click here to learn more about how we can support your compliance needs.

About the author

Dr Richard Dune

With over 20 years of experience, Richard blends a rich background in NHS, the private sector, academia, and research settings. His forte lies in clinical R&D, advancing healthcare tech, workforce development and governance. His leadership ensures regulatory compliance and innovation align seamlessly.

Essential employee training in the UK: - ComplyPlus™ - The Mandatory Training Group UK -

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