Government Must Help SMEs Cope with Swine Flu

Government Must Help SMEs Cope with Swine Flu

Government Must Help SMEs Cope with Swine FluThe Government must take steps to help small businesses through the swine flu pandemic as small businesses are likely to be disproportionately affected, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) stressed this week.

FSB national chairman, John Wright, said:

“Swine flu is expected to have a serious impact on the UK, with a more than five per cent fall in UK GDP this year alone and up to half the population infected. Small firms, which contribute more than half of UK GDP, will be very badly hit.

A small firm employing only three people could expect to have its entire workforce off for up to two weeks this autumn – either due to infection or absences as a result of school closures and transport problems. We want the Government to ease the burden on small firms so that businesses with fewer than 20 employees are automatically entitled to repayment of sick pay during the pandemic.

We also want routine inspection of businesses in high intensity infection areas to be stopped during the pandemic, to reduce the burden of red tape on small firms.”

A spokesman for Health Minister, Andy Burnham, said that the Minister had met with the FSB on 30th July, and would take into consideration the proposals and ideas raised by the business group at the meeting.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) said that small firms need to act quickly to prepare for swine flu.

“A risk analysis is the first step”

said CIPD learning and talent development adviser, Dr John McGurk.

“This should look at which members of staff are critical to an organisation, and which functions would cause production to suffer if they were absent.”

He added that businesses should be imaginative when planning for staff shortages.

“They should consider the possibility of organising overtime or changing shift patterns,” said McGurk. “However, they may also be able to work creatively with other businesses, borrowing staff on a temporary basis or working with firms forced to downsize and considering taking on their staff.”

Visit the CIPD website to read a factsheet on how employers should respond to the swine flu threat.

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