Scrap right to request time off for training, business groups urge

Business groups have called on the Government to scrap the right to request time off for training in its entirety, describing the Regulations as “spectacularly bad”.

The “time to train” Regulations only came into force in April this year, covering employers with more than 250 staff, but the coalition launched the short five-week consultation last month as part of moves to reduced the regulatory burden on businesses.

In its submission to the consultation, which closed yesterday, the Institute of Directors (IoD), described the review of time to train as “a major test of the Government’s determination to reduce business regulation”.

“If the Government does not opt for complete repeal, employers will immediately question the true degree of its commitment to that agenda,” it said.

Alexander Ehmann, head of regulatory affairs at the Iod, said: “Time to train is a spectacularly bad policy – defective from conception to implementation. It epitomises the way in which governments too often proceed on the premise that ‘something must be done’ so they can justify a poorly conceived state solution.

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“Time to train won’t just fail to work as planned – it will wreak considerable damage, as it undermines existing good practice in the planning and delivery of workplace training. The only satisfactory way of addressing this problem is to repeal the legislation completely.”

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) agreed, suggesting that there is no need for employees to have a regulatory right to request in this area as many employers already offer formal or informal training opportunities.

What this legislation does is force employers to use a stock answer to refuse the request – and failure to use one can result in a claim,” said Adam Marshall, director of policy and external affairs at the BCC.

“The result of these Regulations, when combined with legislation protecting part-timers and those on fixed-term contracts from discrimination, means decision making is even more complex. Employers need flexibility in determining their staffing hours and training needs, but these Regulations restrict this.”

However, the TUC warned that scrapping or watering down the right to request time off for training will adversely affect unskilled workers, as many employers do not offer any training at all.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “We must keep the right to request training. Not to do so will make a mockery of the Government’s professed commitment to skills. TUC research shows that eight out of 10 requests for training have been sorted amicably with no problems or extra red tape.”

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