As we have previously reported in Employment Brief, the previous government introduced a new right for employees to make a request for time off work for training. This right is already in force in relation to organisations employing 250 + workers, and is due to come into force for smaller businesses too, in April next year.

However, this may all change. The Government launched a consultation last month on the future of this right to request time off for training. This was announced as part of a review of all regulations, stated to be carried out in a bid to reduce burdens on business. The outcome may be that the current regulations are repealed or amended; or the decision may be made to leave the regulations in place.

The right, at present, is for employees to request time off work to undertake study or training. That training must be for the purpose of improving their effectiveness at work and the performance of their employer’s business. Only employees with at least 26 weeks’ continuous service have the right to make such a request.

Currently, if employees do wish to exercise this right, then it must be done according to the specific statutory requirements. Among the requirements are for the employee to state in their request that it is made pursuant to a particular section of the Employment Rights Act.

If such a request is made by an employee then a process is set in motion that employers must follow. The required steps for the employer include, amongst other things, a meeting within a set number of days to consider the request and notification of the decision to the employee within a set number of days. The process that the employer must go through is not dissimilar to the process that must be adhered to in relation to the right to request flexible working.

If the procedures are not followed correctly then a successful tribunal claim could follow and an employer could face a compensation award of up to eight weeks’ pay.

Any changes to the current legal position arising from the present consultation will be reported in a future edition of Employment Brief. The outcome of the government’s consultation is expected in December, so watch this space. For the meantime, employers with 250 or more workers will need to ensure that they follow the regime set out in the regulations when a request is made.