‘Spectacularly bad’ ‘Time to Train’ regulations, which are unnecessary, poorly thought-through and shoddily designed, should be scrapped before they cause any further harm, the Institute of Directors has warned.
The warning came only days after a five-week consultation, launched by Skills Minister John Hayes last month over the future of the legislation, closed. The rules only came into force in April this year for employers with more than 250 staff. They are scheduled to come into effect for small and medium businesses from April next year.
The regulations operate in a similar way to flexible working applications and enable staff to request time off work for training that would benefit both themselves and their employers provided there are sufficient staff available to cover their job role. Employers are also obliged to explain why they have refused any applications in writing.
But the IoD believes the policy should be scrapped in its entirety not least because it will not impose “significantly underestimated costs” on employers. Alexander Ehmann, the membership organisation’s head of regulatory affairs, said: “Time to Train is a spectacularly bad policy – defective from conception to implementation.”
The concern is that it will not just “fail to work as planned”, however. It will instead “wreak considerable damage because it undermines existing good practice in the planning and delivery of workplace training. The only satisfactory way of addressing this problem is to repeal the legislation completely,” he added.
Failure to do so would lead employers to “immediately question” the government’s commitment to its pledge to cut red tape for business, Ehmann warned.
A recent survey of IoD members pointed to the belief that, if employees exercised their right to request training, organisations would be pushed towards granting them on the basis of individual demands rather than on organisational need. As a result, strategic management would be replaced by a “first come, first served free for all” approach.
But union umbrella organisation the TUC retorted that axing ‘Time to Train’ would “make a mockery” of the government’s professed commitment to skills.
Its general secretary Brendan Barber said: “We must keep the right to request training. The UK desperately needs to tackle its long tail of low and unskilled workers if we are to compete in an increasingly high skilled global economy.”
TUC research indicated that four out of five training requests had been dealt with amicably with no problems or red tape, he added.