The Government has announced that the right to request time off for training will not be extended to all employees from 6 April 2011, as originally planned.
The right for employees to request time off work to undertake study or training has applied to employers with 250 or more employees since 6 April 2010 and operates in a similar way to the right to request flexible working. Employees are entitled to request
time to undertake work-relevant training, which employers must consider by way of a formal process, including holding a meeting with an employee, reporting back in writing and addressing an appeal if the request is turned down. Employers are entitled to refuse
the request if one of a number of acceptable business reasons applies or if they believe that the training requested will not improve performance.
The right was due to be made available to all employees, regardless of the size of the business, from 6 April 2011. However, following consultation the Government has decided to delay extending the right to request time off for training to all employees so
that it can further scrutinise the potential impact on smaller employers.
Alison Loveday of Berg commented that: "This announcement comes at a time when the British Chambers of Commerce has declared that new employment laws due to be implemented over the next four years will cost UK businesses £22.87 billion. Such new laws include
the right to request flexible working, paternity leave, and the abolition of the default retirement age. It is estimated that the right to request time off to train will have an annual recurring cost to business of £174.96million.
Small employers may therefore welcome this delay. They should not lose sight, however, of the fact that the training should be "work-related" and thus, should in theory benefit the business. If carefully planned, it should be possible for an employee to be
allowed time off to train, without causing too much disruption and to the mutual benefit of both the employer and employee. Even without the legislation in place employers should not be too quick to dismiss requests for time off to train. Employers should
seek legal advice at an early stage if they are at all concerned about the impact of these new laws regarding training or otherwise."