Gordon Brown used the draft Queen’s Speech to announce a new right to request time off work for training.
Revealing his plans for the next parliament, Brown said every adult should have the right “to make the most of their potential”.
He said: “It is not only a threat to prosperity but unfair also that adults – in work or looking for work – are denied the opportunity to get the training they need to advance their careers, or even the time needed to do a course.”
Brown added that the new right would benefit both employees and employers.
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber welcomed the move. “Employers agree nine out of 10 requests for flexible working, and if they respond as positively on training it could help millions improve their skills and boost productivity,” he said.
“This will pose a real challenge to those employers who neglect training, and give unions an important role in helping individuals to shape their requests to learn new skills.”
Other measures announced include:
- Extending the right to request flexible working to parents of older children, likely to come into force in April 2009
- A duty on the unemployed to have their skills needs assessed and to acquire skills
- A renewed commitment to introduce legislation boosting the workplace rights of agency workers
- A new Equality Bill designed to make the UK’s discrimination legislative framework clearer
- More shared-equity schemes to help first-time buyers get on the property ladder
Following the announcement, Barber added that unions would now step up their campaign to secure “a fair deal” for agency workers.