The Government has announced that the right to request time to train will not be extended this April to employees of small and medium-sized businesses.
In April 2010, the right was introduced for employees in organisations with 250 or more employees. It was to be extended to all employees from April 2011 but, following a recent consultation, the Government has decided to delay implementation to allow further evaluation of the potential impact this would have on smaller firms.
The way in which the right operates closely follows the model used for agreeing requests for flexible working arrangements.
Currently, to make a request for time to train, an individual must be an employee of an organisation with 250 or more employees and have worked continuously for their employer for at least 26 weeks on the date on which the request is made.
Employees’ requests can be to undertake accredited training programmes that will lead to a qualification or for unaccredited training that will assist them to develop specific skills relevant to their job, workplace or business. Whilst employee requests may involve agreeing time away from their workplace duties, the primary focus is on agreeing relevant training with your staff.
Employers are required to consider any requests and respond within a set timeframe. A request may be turned down if there is a good business reason for doing so, which includes where the employer does not believe the training will help improve business performance.
Guidance for employers is available through the Business Link website.