Training adds to Red Tape burden

Work Related Training

The Government’s proposal to force businesses to consider employee requests for time off for work–related training will mean more red tape for SMEs, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has warned.

Work Related Training

The FSB has called for firms with up to 20 employees to be exempt from the regulations, which would require employers to hold formal meetings with staff seeking time off for training.

Under the FSB’s proposals, these businesses would be allowed to hold informal one–on–one meetings with employees, without the need for union representation (the Government’s proposals give employees the right to be accompanied to the meeting by their trade union representative).FSB education and skills chairman Colin Willman said;

“The ‘time to train’ process is too expensive and too bureaucratic for small firms as it stands. We are concerned that the employee’s right to request a meeting to discuss time off for training will lead to an extra layer of bureaucracy.

“We believe the best way to engage small businesses with the policy is to keep it informal between employer and employee, making it easier to identify the necessary training. Most small businesses already train their workforce as there is a higher percentage of under–skilled employees working within smaller businesses compared with bigger firms.”

The Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) has launched a consultation on the new laws. Businesses have until 10 September 2008 to respond.

Responding to the FSB’s criticism, a DIUS spokesman said:

“The consultation is still ongoing, so we don’t want to pre–empt the outcome. However we’re grateful that the FSB has taken part in the consultation and will obviously take their submission into consideration.”

According to the DIUS, the new regulations would operate along similar lines to the right to request flexible working, which was implemented in 2003. Employers would be under no obligation to grant requests, as long as they could justify refusal on business grounds, but they would be expected to have a meaningful conversation with an employee who wanted training.

The training could be at any level and might be funded by the government, or paid for by the employer or employee.

Subject to Parliamentary consent, the Government’s proposals on the right to take time off to train will passed as legislation in 2010.

To access the consultation on the right to train visit the DIUS website

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