“Time off to Train”

Small businesses exempt from new regulations

The Government has announced that employees in companies with fewer than 49 employees will be exempted from new ‘Time Off to Train’ regulations.

The new regulations, which came into force in April last year, allow employees with at least 26 weeks’ continuous service to request time off to undertake training to improve their effectiveness at work and the performance of the business they are employed by.

The regulations apply currently to larger business with 250+ employees and it was intended that they would be extended to all employers, regardless of size, from 6th April 2011.

Under the regulations an employer may refuse any application on statutory grounds which include the cost burden on the business, the effect on ability to meet customer demand, an inability to reallocate work or the employer’s belief that the training would not improve employee effectiveness or business performance.

However, the employer must hold a meeting with the employee to discuss the application within 28 days of receipt and must then provide a written decision within 14 days. The amount of time allowed off is at the discretion of the employer and that there is no right to payment, even if the request for time off is granted.

The new regulations have been the subject of fierce criticism from businesses as being unnecessary and costly and the British Chambers of Commerce, whilst welcoming the Government’s announcement that small businesses will be exempt, continues to lobby the Government to extend the exemption to medium-sized companies.

If you would like to find out more about ‘Time Off to Train’ regulations please contact our employment team at commercial@blasermills.co.uk.