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Training rights plans ‘too expensive’ for small firms

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An organisation that represents small businesses is voicing concerns that government proposals to give staff the legal right to request time off for training are too bureaucratic and expensive for its members.

Responding to a consultation on the government’s push for employees to have the right to request time off to train, the Federation of Small Businesses is urging the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills to create an exemption for small businesses (0-20) to be able to hold ‘one on one’ informal meetings without the need for union representation.

Colin Willman, Education and Skills Chairman, said: “Most small businesses engage in training for their workforce as there are a higher percentage of under-skilled employees working within smaller businesses compared with bigger firms.

“The ‘time to train’ process is too expensive and too bureaucratic for small firms as it stands and the FSB is concerned that the employee’s right to request a meeting to discuss time off to train will not only lead to an extra layer of bureaucracy, but will also lead to panic amongst small businesses that a refusal could be interpreted as constructive dismissal.

“We believe the best way to engage small businesses with the policy are to keep it informal between employer and employee, making it easier to identify the necessary training.”

According to the FSB’s biennial survey of 20,000 small business owners, 76% of businesses undertake some form of training. However, it says a significant percentage of the training is not recognised by government.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development has also voiced concerns over the proposals. As reported on TrainingZone in June, the CIPD said that employers should be able to decline requests that do not meet business needs.

Related stories:
Legal right to training time: Good news or bad?

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