Friday, 23 May 2008

A New Right to Request Time to Train

The Government has announced that it will be introducing a new legal right for employees in England to request time to train from their employer and that this will be modelled on the existing right to request flexible working.

There are the usual caveats for example employers can refuse the request. Overall however, this is a great move and one that has been debated across the movement for decades. There is a very useful unionlearn press release that gives full coverage on the announcement, including links to the relevant background documents:

What do you think your employer's responses will be?




Roopz said...

Hi Ian,
One of my previous employers allowed me to undertake a diploma in Hospitality Management as a correspondence course. He paid for it BUT made me sign a two year contract stating that I would pay him back if I failed or left his employment within two years. 18 months in and he "let me go" and demanded repayment. After not receiving any holiday pay or due notice I had to take him to a tribunal. Luckiliy ACAS sorted it out and he backed down. I hope the new legislation doesn't allow these sorts of "golden handcuffs"... Rupert

Ian Manborde said...

Hi Rupert,

Many thanks for your input. I'm pleased to hear that you got a remedy to your problem, and I'm not surprised your employer applied the 'handcuffs' which I know is common in this area.

The negotiating issue for trade unions here has to be that, where it is the employer terminating the contract e.g. redundancy, then they should forfeit the training fee paid.

Thanks again for your contribution.



Peter said...

Hello Rupert,

Sorry to hear of your shameful treatment but glad that ACAS were able to help resolve the issue.

Can I add that alongside what Ian said employer's should not only be asked to give time, and hopefully funding, for training but also show how they will support the individual during their course.

At our workplace we routinely have apprentices which is good as it brings 'new blood' into our workplace but, they also put pressure on them to do overtime. A long-term problem for us reps has been handling the grievances from apprentices when they say they can't complete coursework and be at work at the same time.

We say to the employer regularly we are just after a fair balance.

It will be interesting to see what the first few agreements around this look like.



Val said...


I can't see our employer bothering with this. You know how hard it has been for me and the other reps at our workplace to get on basic reps courses - and we've had that right for years!

I can only see this ending up like the stuff on flexible work - you can ask - but your employer can tell you to clear off!

I've e-mailed the link you gave to our HR woman but I am not holding my breath.


Muhammed said...

Hi Folks,

I didn't know anything about this til I saw it on the blog.

Can't say it'll make much difference at my workplace as things tend to be OK(ish) around this. Although the need for employers to justify their rejection to a request will be interesting.

Reps will need to make a link between the new statutory right and the workplace grievance procedure to make sure that wholly unfair rejections can go somewhere or else workers will argue that the 'right' is negligible.

I also think that workplaces like ours will need to get the right added quite sharpish into the workplace agreement on learning.

So long as the Tories don't ditch this when/if they get in this'll also be good to maintain the need for ULRs.

I'll let you know what happens at our workplace about this.


and can you take your ugly mug of the blog - it doesn't impress anyone and it's probably frightening new people off leaving comments!

Ian Manborde said...

Dear Muhammed,

Many thanks for a highly insightful post, spolit only by a childlike attack on the 'portrait' that adorns the blog.

I think you'll find brother that my image beats yours any day and that, unlike you, I enjoy talent and great looks in equal measure!

Yours fraternally

Reema said...


Just came across your web site from my convenor who did a course with you on TUPE at Northern College last year.

Newcastle Council are still going ahead with the next phase of contracting out - but some of the stuff you gave out from the GMB has been helpful in answering members questions.

Despite the contracting out the council havent been too bad around certain types of training. I am in social services and they usually give you time to get a basic NVQ if you haven;t got one. But the problem comes if you ask for anything interesting like computer courses.

I think our manager will just tell people no and say its not relavant to the job. I read one of the comments on your page which was good when it said that we should link this new right with the grievance procedure and chase managers who say no to easily.

I'll let John my convenor know that I used your blog and try and get him to have a go as well.

Thank you


Alan said...


I don't think I've been here for a while. It's an interesting think this blogging melarky.

I'd be interested to ask you next time we meet (I think I owe you a pint) how many people bother with this cyber chattery.

Mind you if it means that old farts like me can be read by millions (ok, at least two) than I am happy.

Anyway, this new training time right I can't see this going down a storm at our place in Sunny Doncaster.

I remember you saying this when we did our ULR training - many employers just want people to push buttons and say why do people need training to do that?

One of the people who replied to your question hit the nail on the head when she said that its a right to ask and a right for the employer to tell you to go do one!

Its too much like Browns version of new labour eg if I give you sod all will you still vote for me.

You can imagine what my answer is?

If I don't see you before I'll see you on the GFTU's advanced course in October.


Ian Manborde said...

Hi Alan,

Thanks for adding a comment.

As you have identified the difficulty in workplaces like yours with a very poor track record of providing training or encouraging workers to investigate their own learning needs is that the new right may well make no difference.

Your branch is fairly well organised though and you have been able to negotiate some improvements in the past.

It'll be interesting to see whether you can tie the employer down via your grievance procedure.



PS Yes, you do me a drink - I hadn't forgotten!