October 1st 2013 was one of the Red Tape Freedom Days, on which the government introduced a number of reforms in the regulatory requirements of small businesses. They were in response to the Red Tape Challenge which looked at how to minimise the effects of, or do away with altogether, some 3,000 regulations. The government believes this will make life easier for small businesses and encourage more start-ups.
Employer Liability Reduced
Among the reforms now in place are changes to harassment legislation so employers will not be automatically liable for staff being harassed by third parties. If this is by your customers or members of the public, it is not really in your control, so the regulation is now much fairer. Of course, you must still try to protect staff wherever possible, by removing them from situations where this is likely to happen, for example. Similarly, if you are an employer, you will no longer be liable for workplace accidents, as long as you have assessed all risks and taken preventative measures.
Freedom from Some of the Red Tape
We join you in welcoming another measure, which is that unnecessary statutory forms have now been replaced with more flexible methods of submitting company reports. Introducing the reforms, Business Minister Michael Fallon said, ‘For small firms, less time spent filling in forms means more time planning the next project, winning the next contract or looking for the next young recruit.’
Local Growth Minister Mark Prisk said, ‘The government is setting business free from red tape to the tune of over £212 million a year so local traders can generate the kind of enterprise that is vital to our economic growth,” He also referred to the total amount of business rate relief for small shops, which has been increased from £300 million to £900 million.
A Word of Warning
The exemption for micro businesses from the EU requirements to produce profit and loss accounts and detailed balance sheets is not yet in force, but will be implemented later this year. This has prompted a warning from Experian, the major information services provider. If you don’t submit information to Companies House, you need to check your credit rating regularly and make sure the credit reference agencies have enough information about your financial situation to give accurate credit references. We agree this is vitally important if you need to finance your business plans.