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Beware ?family friendly? talk, says FSB

Date 26 Sep 2006
Author The Editor

The three major political parties need to temper their calls for family-friendly working practices with ‘a dose of reality’, the Federation of Small Businesses is warning.

Proposals have come from the Liberal Democrats, Labour and the Conservatives on how businesses may have to alter their working conditions and prove that they are doing so to favour families. However, in reality small firms are already spending an average of 28 hours per month filling in regulatory forms already.

With small businesses employing over half of the private sector work force and contributing 58% of GDP, holding back small business growth is not in the best interests of the UK economy.

Between 2000 and 2004 large firms lost 1.5 million jobs while small firms created 2 million new posts. If this growth is restricted in future it will have a dire effect on the UK economy. Colin Stratton, FSB NE Regional Chairman, said: “Small businesses are often in the vanguard of new family-friendly policies as the workers and the boss are usually in the same room. They can therefore work out ways of working to suit the work/life balance much more easily than in a large business. “However, when the Government gets involved in this equation it can create antagonism that was not present before. What was once a good-natured compromise becomes a confrontation.

“So the message is clear to all political parties. Family-friendly policies are no doubt done with the best of intentions but implementation must be done carefully - with the needs of employers fully considered - if the economic well-being of the country is not to be put at risk. Restricting small business growth will cost jobs and that will benefit no-one.”

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