Suffolk: Business leaders complain of barriers to growth

BUSINESS leaders have branded rules around dismissal, health and safety and sickness absence as a barrier to growth.

A new report by British Chambers of Commerce shows that in a survey of more than 2,000 small businesses, two thirds want to take on more staff, but are deterred by rules around the three areas.

In the same survey, one in five firms said they have been threatened with an employment tribunal.

“Small businesses are crucial to the UK economy.” said Suffolk Chamber chief executive John Dugmore.

“They employ more than three million people in the UK. More than this, they are the civic-minded firms on our streets up and down the country, at the heart of our communities.”


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The majority of small firms (61%) believe that employment tribunals are weighted unfairly against the employer and these results suggest that the employment tribunal system is a barrier to job creation.

“While the Government’s proposed package of reforms is welcome it does not go far enough,” said Mr Dugmore.

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“Over one in two small firms see dismissal rules as extremely or fairly burdensome. The government is currently consulting on extending the unfair dismissal qualifying period. As part of that there should be a root and branch reform of the whole dismissal system to give confidence to those employers taking on a new staff member.”

The chambers found that the majority of the UK’s small businesses want to grow, and to invest and take on more employees. However, they are also pessimistic about the UK labour market’s skill level and flexibility, and felt “severely frustrated” by the difficulties they face in expanding, the chambers said.

“We recognise the Government has taken some steps towards improving the tribunal system, but with new agency rules, parental rights and pensions changes all coming down the track before 2015, the net result for our small firms will be negative,” said Mr Dugmore.

“The more flexible the employment market is, the more jobs will be created. Business owners want to recruit, so the Government must provide a simplified and stable regulatory environment to encourage them to do so.”

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