One in ten small businesses have paid an average of £1,000 each on external consultants and advisors to help them manage employment legislation, according to research commissioned by the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR).
Just under 15 per cent of small businesses admit to paying consultants to help them calculate staff holiday entitlement.
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“Every penny counts in a downturn. We don’t want small businesses spending money on advice and information that the government provides free of charge,” comments Pat McFadden, minister for employment relations. “Some small business owners think they need a professional qualification to manage simple tasks and that free advice will not provide them with the answers they need. I would urge all small business owners to familiarise themselves with the Business Link online resources."
McFadden says that if just half of all employers used the government’s free online tools, it would save UK businesses around £50m a year.
“I built my concierge business on free advice from family, friends and mentors,” says Alex Cheatle, who set up lifestyle concierge firm Ten UK in 1998 and now has 150,000 members on his books. “If I had ignored all those tips, neither myself or my business would be where we are today. If professional free advice is available and it provides all you need to comply, you should act on it.”
Cheatle says his best piece of free advice was to hire people better than himself: "It can be extremely daunting to employ someone you believe to be sharper than you, but it has been the making of my business."
Business Link services can be accessed online at businesslink.gov.uk or by calling the National Help Line on 0845 600 9 006.
Real Business will be publishing The Good Employer Guide, in association with BERR, in the April issue of Real Business magazine.
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