The coalition government has ruled out extending the right to request time for training to employees in small to medium businesses until at least 2015.
Under proposals made by the last government, staff in companies with less than 250 personnel would have been entitled to the same rights as those in larger organisations by April this year. But when the coalition came to power in June 2010, it made the suggestions subject to consultation.
The consultation revealed that employers, professional bodies and unions were split on the value of the legislation, with 77% of small firms opposing it.
The report said several representative bodies had commented that larger organisations were more likely to have “dedicated functionality and resource to deal with personnel and training issues”. Small ones without dedicated HR functions, on the other hand, “could be more challenged to deal easily and consistently with requests submitted using the right”, the report added.
Given the inconclusive nature of the consultation’s findings, the decision was taken, therefore, not to extend current legislation to staff working in SMBs for the foreseeable future but not to repeal it either. This means that the right to request training will remain in place for employees working in organisations with more than 250 personnel, but the situation will be kept under review.
In news elsewhere, Children’s Minister Sarah Teather is proposing to modify when parents can claim free childcare in a bid to make provision more work-friendly.
Parents of three- and four-year olds are currently entitled to 15 hours of free childcare between 8am and 6pm, but the aim is to extend the hours from 7am to 7pm. The entitlement must also currently be used over at least three days, but the aim is to reduce this to two to provide more options for part-time workers.
A further goal is to extend free childcare to two-year olds from 2013, but only for low income families. The proposals, which are due to be consulted on this autumn, are part of a government shake-up of early year’s education in response to the Tickell Review of the Early Years Foundation Stage.