Following its decision earlier this year not to extend the right to request time off for training to employees in small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the government has now announced that it will retain the right for employees in large organisations.

This follows a consultation last year seeking views on whether to:

  • Continue with the extension of the right as planned
  • Retain the right only for large firms
  • Delay the extension of the right to SMEs until the economic conditions improve
  • Repeal the right in full

It also sought views on whether, if the right was retained, it could be amended so that it functioned better.

The government has now published its response to the consultation and concluded from the responses received that it could not proceed with the planned extension of the right to all employees in April 2011. Equally, however, because of the strong support for the measure “in some quarters”, it has decided that it should not repeal the right in full.

Given this position, the right to request for time off to train will therefore not be extended to employees of small and medium-sized organisations “for the foreseeable future”. The right will continue to be available to employees in large organisations with 250 or more employees.

The government has also committed to formally evaluate the right to request time to train so that the merits of the policy can be reviewed by April 2015. This, it says, will enable an evidence based decision to be made on whether the right should then be extended to employees in small and medium organisations in April 2015, remain as now or be repealed.

The Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009 introduced the right to request time to train for employees in organisations with more than 250 employees in England, Scotland and Wales with effect from April 2010.

The legislation extended the right to employees in small and medium-sized organisations from April 2011 but this was put on hold by the coalition government last year to allow for a review in order to “reduce burdens on business” (see weekly LELR 180).

To read the response in full, go to the Department for Business Innovation & Skills or to download their pdf version.