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Divided opinion over Government plans to scrap the right to request time off for training

20 September 2010 #Employment

The Government`s consultation regarding the right to request time off for training and study closed on 15 August 2010.

The "time to train" Regulations only came into force in April this year for employers with more than 250 staff, and are due to apply to smaller companies from April 2011. The Government is currently reviewing a significant amount of legislation that applies to businesses and intends to reduce or simplify this.

It is clear from the results of the consultation that business groups would be glad to see the back of the legislation but that employee friendly groups want the right to remain.

In its response to the consultation, the Institute of Directors (IoD), said: "Time to train is a spectacularly bad policy - defective from conception to implementation. It epitomises the way in which governments too often proceed on the premise that `something must be done` so they can justify a poorly conceived state solution."

"Time to train won`t just fail to work as planned - it will wreak considerable damage, as it undermines existing good practice in the planning and delivery of workplace training. The only satisfactory way of addressing this problem is to repeal the legislation completely."

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) supported the IoD`s stance suggesting that there is no need for employees to have a regulatory right to request training as many employers already offer formal or informal training opportunities.

What this legislation does is force employers to use a stock answer to refuse the request - and failure to use one can result in a claim," said the BCC`s Director of Policy and External Affairs, Adam Marshall.

The Trade Union Congress (TUC) supports the legislation however and warned that scrapping it or watering it down would have an adverse impact on unskilled workers. They also disagreed with the BCC`s comments that many employers already offer training.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "We must keep the right to request training. Not to do so will make a mockery of the Government`s professed commitment to skills. TUC research shows that eight out of 10 requests for training have been sorted amicably with no problems or extra red tape."

"Spending cuts to training will hit the most vulnerable and damage prospects of a viable economic recovery."

"Lifelong learning is important for everyone, not just highly qualified workers, and yet there is a huge divide between the amount spent on training well qualified staff and the 10 million workers who receive no training at work. Cuts to the skills budget will only increase this divide."

Clarkslegal, specialist Employment lawyers in London, Reading and throughout the Thames Valley.
For further information about this or any other Employment matter please contact Clarkslegal's employment team by email at by telephone 020 7539 8000 (London office), 0118 958 5321 (Reading office) or by completing the form on this page.
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