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June 2008

New rules give employees time off for training

John Denham MPJohn Denham, Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills has announced details of how up to 22 million workers will be able to use a new legal right to request time out from work to improve their skills.

Mr Denham said he expected around 300,000 people a year to receive skills training who otherwise would not as a result of legislation which could be in place within the next 18 months.

The government believes that a legal right to request time to train will help ensure that training is taken seriously by all employers. However, employers will not have to comply with a request if they can show a good business reason or the training is not likely to improve business performance.

Mr Denham said:

"Investment in skills is key to ensuring we come through with a stronger economy and making sure individuals can make the most of their abilities.

"But we have still not persuaded every employer of the importance of skills. A third of employers still don't train their staff. In other organisations training does not involve everyone. The employers who do not train run real risks with their businesses. Public services who do not train will struggle to provide the quality of service that the taxpayer expects.

"We need to find new ways to bring the drive for skills into every workplace and to every worker which is why we are consulting on a new right for workers to request time to train."

It is planned that the new entitlement will apply to all employees who have worked for their employer for 26 weeks. It is thought that requests should be treated in a similar way to those for flexible working, which was first introduced in 2003.

The proposals are outlined in the form of a consultation document. To view the document in full, please click here.

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