Small-business lobby group the Forum of Private Business (FPB) has praised the Coalition government's employment law reforms, saying that they will make it easier for SMBs to add headcount.
The changes to the laws of recruitment and termination will restore "fairness and balance" in "key areas", according to a statement quoting the FPB's head of policy Alexander Jackman.
"On the whole our members have welcomed the direction the government is taking on employment law reform. Employment regulations have long been seen as weighted in favour of employees," Jackman said. "It is good to see some balance returning."
That said, Jackman went on to say that in his view even more changes are needed to the law around "people management".
"For instance, proposals on flexible working for employees will in practice impose structures that limit the flexibility of employers in managing their staff," he said.
In the latest changes, checking up on prospective hires through the disclosure and barring service has been simplified.
The introduction of settlement agreements – contracts that waive the right to make a claim to an employment tribunal or court, often for a payment or settlement – earlier this year was also welcomed by SMBs.
Jackman indicated that 51 per cent of small businesses polled by the FPB that were looking to employ staff at the time said the changes would make them "more likely" to recruit.
Only two per cent of the FPB members polled indicated they believe the regulatory changes allowed them to be flexible.
Forty-five per cent of FPB members surveyed said that the incoming laws allowing shared parental leave and extending the right to request flexible working would damage the way they run their businesses.
Seventy-five per cent of FPB members said they wanted it to be cheaper to hire people – with administrative costs and taxes seen as primary hindrances to recruitment.
"The employment allowance coming in next year will satisfy those seeking greater tax benefits for small businesses – though some may use the allowance to fund compliance training for new regulations," said Jackman. "Government must recognise that it is not just the overall level of regulation that is burdensome but the constant change."
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