Training and development: should I bother?

Training and development: should I bother?

Training & Development

By Julie Sillito –

Training and development of a workforce can often fall to the bottom of the pile in a growing business as orders take priority. However, not only are there distinct benefits in doing so, there are also legal requirements.

One of the questions we get asked time and time again by employers, is whether they have to train and develop their employees. The simple answer is, “yes” – and not just because it’s a legal requirement. There are many added business benefits.

So, what exactly are the benefits of training and development for the employer?

The main benefits for the employer can include:

  • improved productivity and profitability;
  • the ability to embrace new trends and technologies without suffering from skill shortages;
  • opportunities for business growth;
  • improved product or service quality;
  • improved customer satisfaction;
  • greater flexibility to adapt to new and changing markets;
  • better employee attitude and time management;
  • less wastage of valuable materials;
  • reduced absenteeism;
  • better communication and leadership skills;
  • fewer workplace accidents;
  • lower maintenance costs for capital equipment;
  • greater opportunity to promote from within; and
  • reduced external recruitment costs.

What about the employee?

The main benefits for the employee can include:

  • improved knowledge and skills;
  • a greater understanding of the business;
  • the opportunity to gain nationally recognised qualifications;
  • better promotion and salary prospects;
  • greater job satisfaction; and
  • better motivation and morale.

If you need further convincing, bear in mind that employers are under a legal duty to provide all workers (including agency temps, casual workers and those on work experience schemes) with all necessary information, instruction and training to ensure their health and safety. There is no other legal duty to provide occupational training or employee development. However, employers who fail to provide occupational training and then dismiss an employee on the grounds of poor performance, may have difficulty in convincing an employment tribunal that the dismissal was fair.

All employed 16 to 17-year-olds not in full-time secondary, or further education and without NVQ Level 2 or the educational equivalent, are legally entitled to a reasonable amount of paid time off work. This is to pursue courses of study or training that will lead to such qualifications. Where an employee is 18, undertaking a course of study or training and began the course before reaching the age of 18 will also be legally entitled to take paid time off. A young employee, who qualifies for paid time off for study or training and is refused or is victimised for asking, may bring a complaint before an employment tribunal.

Employers are also legally required to allow certain other categories of employee time off for training, including:

  • safety representatives;
  • trade union officials;
  • pension scheme trustees; and
  • trade union learning representatives.

The statutory right to request time to train applies to eligible employees in organisations in England, Wales and Scotland, but not Northern Ireland. In organisations with 250 employees or more, employees with 26 weeks’ continuous service have the right to request time to undertake study or training. You do not have to agree to an employee’s request, but you have a statutory duty to give serious consideration to their application, which can only be refused on specific grounds.

So, the combination of a long list of business benefits and legal requirements should provide enough compelling reasons to make training and development a key part of any business strategy. Remember that to be effective, training and development is not a “one off” or occasional activity, it is part of an ongoing process.

Julie Sillito is a solicitor with Riverview Solicitors.

An ideal training process

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