New guidance marks a step forward, now part-time furloughing key to recovery, say small firms

Responding to the publication of new in-depth guidance for small firms looking to return to work, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) National Chairman Mike Cherry said:

“We engaged with the Government on these guidelines and it’s good to see that our feedback on behalf of 5.8 million small businesses and the self-employed has been taken on board. While only the first step on a long journey, this guidance is practical, workable and proportional for small businesses. The majority have very robust health and safety measures in place, and these guidelines acknowledge that fact.   

“Small employers often offer the kinds of flexible working environments that can be found wanting in big corporations. They face a long journey ahead, but this guidance equips them with practical suggestions and advice they’ll need to have positive conversations with their staff as they look to bringing teams back into workplaces. This is just the start of getting the economy back on its feet.

“Business owners are in the middle of the worst downturn on record. The Government has stepped-up with a raft of support mechanisms to help them through. It’s critical that these mechanisms are not suddenly removed, and that gaps in support are plugged quickly.

“The vast majority of small employers have furloughed staff and they’re telling us loud and clear that the ability to do so on a part-time basis as we move towards recovery will be key to keeping their operations afloat. For firms that don’t have the green light to open until July at the very earliest in particular, we need to see schemes extended significantly – not least the job retention scheme.

“Equally, when considering how firms can return to work, we may have to look at targeted financial support, perhaps in the form of back to work vouchers, for those trying to make adjustments to their workplaces but without the cash flow needed to do so. Many will struggle with practical considerations, particularly where childcare and transport are concerned. 

“The availability of a Health and Safety Executive tool to support small employers assessing their workplaces is very welcome, as is the fresh £14 million being handed to the body to help it improve customer service.”

About FSB
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB’s) mission is to help smaller businesses achieve their ambitions. As well as being the UK’s leading business campaigning organisation, FSB also offers its members a wide range of vital business services, including a 24/7 legal advice line, access to finance, cyber protection, events and a powerful voice heard in governments.

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