The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has launched a consultation seeking views about the future of the ‘right to request time to train’ legislation and whether the right should be repealed, retained only for large organisations or extended to small and medium sized organisations as planned. The closing date for submissions was 15 September 2010.

The consultation was launched following the Government’s announcement that it plans to review all regulations in a bid to reduce the burden on businesses.

Right to Request Time to Train – a reminder

Since 6 April 2010, employees in businesses with 250 employees or more have had the legal right to request time to take up relevant training. Employees can only make the request if they have at least 26 weeks’ continuous employment on the date they make their request. There is no limit on the length of time that the study or training may take. The key requirement is that the training will help improve business performance and effectiveness in the employer’s business. Employees do not have the right to be paid for the time spent training, although an employer may agree to cover the cost, or some of the cost, if they wish to recognise the value of the training.

If an employee makes a request for time to train, a statutory procedure must be followed by the employer; the procedure is very similar to the flexible working application procedure. An employer may agree to the request for time to train, and reach agreement with the employee that they will work flexibly to make up the time spent training, or that the employee will be permitted to take unpaid time off to train.

Currently this right is due to be extended to cover employees in all businesses from 6 April 2011. Whether this continues to be the case will depend on the outcome of the consultation.