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Time to train?
  1. Claire Millington


From April this year, employees working in organisations of 250 people or more will be able to request time to undertake study or training in a government initiative called ‘time to train’. From April 2011, this will apply to all employees

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FROM April 6, employees who work in an organisation with 250 or more employees will have the statutory right to request time for study or training. From April 6, 2011, this right will apply to all employees working in organisations of all sizes.

Employees who already have a system in place with their employer for making training requests can continue to use it.

Scheme criteria

To make a statutory request for ‘time to train’, employees must have worked for their employer continuously for at least 26 weeks before they apply. They will not be able to make a request for ‘time to train’ if they are:

■ An agency worker;

■ A member of the armed forces;

■ Compulsory school age (‘school age’ in Scotland);

■ A young person who already has a statutory right to paid time off to undertake study or training; or

■ Between 16 and 18 years old, and already taking part in education or training.

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Types of training

Employees will have the right only to request time for certain types of training. This might include training leading to a qualification, or training to help them to develop skills relevant to their job, workplace or business.

There will be no limit on the length of time the study or training might take. The most important requirement is that the training the employee wants should help to improve business performance and their effectiveness in their employer's business.

The Government advises that, before making their request, employees should decide on the training they need and consider how to best to achieve it. They should make their request well before they apply for a course at a college or similar institution. This will allow time for the request to be discussed and help the employee to decide whether they will have the time to attend. For example, they may need to agree time off work or change their working hours before starting.

The new right will not automatically change any existing arrangements between employer and employee about payment of wages while training, or meeting the cost of course fees. It will be up to the employee to agree with their employer about how to meet any costs. Employers will not have to meet the cost of training although they may decide to do so.

Discussing your request

Once a request has been made, employers have certain responsibilities regarding how they consider it. They should do this within a set period, and arrange a meeting with the employee if they need to discuss the request.

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