Workplace rights: Training time

From April, employees in businesses employing 250 or more will have the right to request time to undertake training. The law will be extended to all organisations, regardless of size, in 2011.

by Michael Burd and James Davies, Lewis Silkin LLP solicitors - e-mail:
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

The idea is to help people strengthen their skills and employability and, in turn, assist the UK's economic recovery. Staff with at least six months' service will be eligible to ask for time off work for any training they think will make them more effective at work and improve business performance. At first blush, it seems a significant provision, but the right is actually a fairly feeble one in legal terms. Employees can merely 'request' time to train and, although employers must consider the proposal seriously, they can refuse by pointing to a sound business reason. Even where a request is approved, the employer will not be legally required to allow paid time off or to fund the training. The Government's leaflet summarising the new law says that it will 'make skills a hot topic of discussion in the workplace'. Hardly a ringing endorsement ...

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