Training changes for small companies

Small companies are facing changes in the regulations when it comes to staff time off for training.

Since April 2010, all staff working in organisations with over 250 employees have had the statutory right to request time off for study and training. However, from 6 April 2011, this right is extending to cover employees in organisations with fewer than 250 employees. As such, businesses may shortly be faced with employees requesting time off. It is important to note that it is a right to request time off, and not a right to time off. 

To be eligible to make a request, the individual must be an employee and must have at least 26 weeks of continuous service. The right does not apply to agency staff or certain individuals under the age of 18. Also, while an eligible employee can request more than one type of training at the same time, the general rule is that only one request can be made in any 12-month period. 

The right to request also only applies to certain types of training and must improve the employee’s effectiveness at work and improve the performance of the business. Of course, training which is a requirement of the job should be being provided to employees in any event, but this new legislation may lead to requests which, while not necessary for the role, may nevertheless be beneficial. 

There is no requirement for the training to lead to a formal qualification, and it may simply be training to develop a skill relevant to the individual’s job or the wider business. For example, an employee may request time off to improve their English language skills, learn a foreign language or improve or gain literacy, numeracy or IT skills. 

Employers that fail to deal with a request properly, or at all, could find themselves on the wrong end of Employment Tribunal proceedings, or other fines.

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