Employment law is too complex, says FSB

Small.biz growth stifled by red tape

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Small businesses are finding it very difficult to cope with increasing amounts of employment legislation, according to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB). The trade group says calls to its free legal helpline on employment issues grew by 30 per cent last year.

There were 70,943 calls to the helpline in 2005, up from 55,036 in 2004. Most calls related to disciplinary procedures.

Of these, the largest increases were seen in calls on dismissal, up to 7,583 calls from 2,771 (an increase of 174 per cent) and grievances, which were up 118 per cent to 2,442.

Queries on paternity and adoption leave grew 100 per cent in 2005, while calls on employers' liability were up 96 per cent to 736 and calls on flexible working grew 93 per cent. Conversely, calls concerning unfair dismissal dropped 71 per cent between 2004 and 2005, while calls on wrongful dismissal fell 76 per cent.

"There are at least 26 Acts of Parliament on employment issues and it is tough for small firms to deal with all their requirements, as these figures show," FSB Members' Services chairman Sandy Harris said.

He continued: "We do not want to repeal or reduce all legal safeguards for employees. But without a simplification of employment law small firms' growth will continue to be stifled. If the government wishes to achieve its aims for future economic prosperity then it should take its foot off the pedal on employment legislation."

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