The Department for Universities Innovation and Skills has recently launched a consultation document on a right to request time to undergo business-related training, which it plans to introduce in 2010. The new "time to train" provisions would work in much the same way as the right to request flexible working. Employers would not be compelled to say yes but could only say no for a number of defined reasons.
The Government hopes that the new right will improve the skills gap between Britain and its competitors in the OECD group and, based on its experience of the flexible working provisions, thinks around 300,000 employees a year will benefit. Like the right to request flexible working, it will generally only be available to employees with at least six months' service. Although there will be no obligation on the employers to pay for the training, there is an expectation that many employers will choose to do so. The paper is also open minded about whether requests should be met by giving paid time off or whether an employee's need for time to train can be accommodated by adopting more flexible working arrangements.
The consultation document is available here.