Union learning reps’ role needs clarity

Employers are calling for clearer guidance on the role of union learning
representatives, who are to be given statutory powers to promote workplace
learning later this year.

Treasury minister John Healey announced £20m funding would be provided for
the representatives, saying they would be vital to improving skills in the
workforce.

The proposals are to be implemented under the Employment Act 2002.

But employers warn that lack of clarity and detail will make it difficult
for them to work out how the reps will fit into organisations’ existing
training structures.

"The legislation does not tell you much about whether they could
commission training or require staff to attend," said Robbie Gilbert,
chief executive of the Employers’ Forum on Statute and Practice.

"We need more clarity because employers are puzzled about the role of
these reps."

The remit of the ULRs is outlined in an Acas code. But Gilbert and others
say the code should be more detailed.

Anne Lindsay, CBI senior policy adviser on learning and skills, said:
"Further guidance is needed if this is to lead to more productive
workplaces."

The DTI is considering changes to the Acas code.

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