Do my employees have right to training time?
Q Do employees have a new right to take time off work to attend training courses? A A new right to request time off for training is being introduced in April.
Initially, the right will apply only to employees in organisations with 250 or more employees.
But the legislation is being extended to cover all employees from April 2011.
Employees who have at least 26-weeks service will be able to request that they are allowed time off to attend training which they believe can benefit the business.
The request can be to undertake accredited programmes leading to a qualification.
Or it can be for unaccredited training to help them develop specific skills relevant to their job or your business.
The procedure to be followed is modelled on the right to request flexible working. You will be required to consider any requests and respond within a set timeframe.
Only one request can be made under the scheme in any twelve-month period.
You will be obliged to seriously consider the request, but will be able to refuse it where there is a good business reason for doing so.
Such reasons include where you do not believe the training will help improve business performance.
Under the scheme there is no obligation to pay the employee in respect of the time that you agree they can take off.
Similarly there is no obligation to pay or contribute towards the cost of the training.
However, there are no rules prohibiting you from agreeing to make some financial contribution.
In practice, it is unlikely that the new right will have a huge impact.
That is due to the ability of the employer to refuse and the fact that the time off is unpaid.
However, you should ensure that you comply with the time limits.
You should also follow the full procedure if a request is made.
A breach could lead to the employee being awarded up to eight-weeks capped pay in compensation.. Kerstie Skeaping, Halliwells LLP Solicitors, 100 Old Hall Street, Liverpool L3 9TD.
Ring 0870 365 9842, fax 0870 365 8004 or e-mail Kerstie.Skeaping@halliwells.com