The government’s Business Taskforce has published a report containing several recommendations on how to reduce the burden European legislation has placed on small business and micro-enterprises.
A taskforce of six UK business experts has put together a report on the impact of EU legislation on UK businesses, making recommendations on cutting red tape and relieving the pressure of EU regulations, with a particular focus on small businesses and micro-enterprises.
Feedback from small businesses and micro-enterprises suggested that they are struggling to cope with the volume and complexity of EU legislation. According to the report, for many micro-enterprises the risk of being sued for inadvertently breaching EU law has led to the decision simply not to employ people.
As such, the taskforce proposes that the starting presumption for all EU employment law should be that micro-enterprises are exempt. Where this is not feasible, or where the legislation also contains benefits for such businesses, the taskforce proposes special provisions should be included to ensure lighter burdens are placed on micro-enterprises than other businesses.
The report goes on to make some specific recommendations about particular “problem” areas of EU employment law, including the following:
- Exempting small, low-risk businesses from rigorous health and safety record-keeping requirements.
- The European Commission should withdraw their proposal to amend the Pregnant Workers Directive, which the report states could cost the UK an extra £2.5 billion per year.
- Imposing strict limits on the paperwork an EU state can require from a business before they send a worker to another EU country.
- Current information and consultation obligations should not be extended to cover micro-businesses.
- Retaining an individual’s ability to contract out of the 48-hour week, while also clarifying some of the more complex provisions in the Working Time Regulations such as those concerning on-call time and compensatory rest.
- Amending the Acquired Rights Directive to enable greater flexibility to change contract terms following a transfer of employment.
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