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Temporary Short-Time Working Compensation

Volume 416: debated on Monday 2 February 1981

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My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether it would not be more nationally beneficial if employers, who currently receive funds partially to compensate them for their employees' working short time, could receive similar assistance when their employees are attending approved training courses instead of only when they are sitting at home.

No, my Lords. Most training is, in effect, an extension of employment and we could not accept that workers being trained at their employer's expense were genuinely on short-time working. It follows that no compensation could be payable under the Temporary Short Time Working Compensation Scheme on days on which workers are being trained. An exception can be made in the case of English language courses run by the Industrial Training Unit, provided that these courses are not held on the employer's premises.

My Lords, I thank the Minister for that reply. Does it not sound rather unreasonable that money should be made available for workers only while they are staying at home? If they are being trained for the future benefit of our industry, should not the same money be made available?

My Lords, I think that it sounds unreasonable until one considers that because the Government, in effect, are paying the employee's wages, it would give the employer in question an unfair advantage over employers not benefiting under the scheme. I would point out to the noble Earl that there is nothing to prevent the worker seeking training under a Government training scheme while he is off work.