Opinion

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Loosening the legislative noose

3 Mins

I was delighted to hear Mark Prisk repeating his promise to reduce the burden of legislation on small businesses recently. I never quite got the pre-election promise that for every two new bits of legislation, two would be taken away. My maths kept on coming up with plus two and minus two making absolutely nothing.
 
Having been short staffed on the administration side of management for a long time now, I’ve been starting to look at a mountainous backlog of HR and health and safety changes that we need to up-date ourselves with. 

On the HR side, this has meant employing our specialist HR company to re-do both contracts and handbooks and will take a junior member of staff a couple of days (at least) to print off, distribute and get signed by 30-odd people. How long ago did we do this? Six months. The cost to a small company like ours, at a time when we are recession fighting, is huge. And it’s hardly the most eco-friendly activity on the planet as I watch several tons of paper head though our printers yet again.  
 
Health and safety is the same story. Again, at the size we are, we are too small to have a high-flying an expert solely allocated to this in house, so we have to rely on a mix of our own training and knowledge, plus up-dates and checks from outside contractors. The more often these laws change, the more often we have to re-train, re-print the manual and so on.  
 
So many small business owners are caught in this trap. They have to keep up with legislation. They have no time nor resources, nor high flying in-house experts. Increasingly, the laws are tightening the noose around their necks. How many of Britain’s business people have been lost to the pressure?  
 
So yes, legislation needs to change. It needs to change massively. The government needs to foster a climate where business owners today (the genuine ones who care about their staff’s welfare) are not forced to flee in fear from running a business in Britain.

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