Employers harshly treated by law, report claims

Small businesses are being unfairly treated when it comes to the dismissal of rogue staff, a new report has claimed.



A study by SME Boardroom, a membership organisation for small firms, found that a quarter of businesses wanted the government to review dismissal rules, a higher proportion than any other staffing issue.


The figures show that 17.5% of small firms had sacked someone for misbehaviour, with a further 14% firing an employee for failing to turn up to work or for illegal activity.


Worryingly, 18% of respondents said they subsequently faced unfair dismissal claims, 16% suffered sabotage to their business, 13% lost intellectual property and 11.5% had to pay “significant’ amounts to avoid legal claims.


Kim Dennis, chair of the SME Boardroom, told StartupSmart that she was surprised at the amount of damage caused by miscreant employees to small firms.


“I feel there isn’t a fair balance in dismissal laws,” she says. “It seems like laws are weighted against employers when it comes to dismissing staff that have sabotaged their business.”


“While large businesses will have to hire people anyway, this makes small businesses very careful about employing people unless they see a real need for it.”


SME Boardroom’s figures also show that 70% of businesses said a major issue was finding candidates that meet their requirements. More than a third cited high salary costs, while a further third identified attracting and retaining quality talent.


Half of those polled said that motivating their staff was a challenge, with 65% having an issue with monitoring performance.


Dennis says that start-up firms should take their time to find the right person.


“Before you start recruiting, you need to know what the company stands for and its culture and then think about the skills you need,” she says.


“It’s not all about the resume. No one is a perfect from day one, so be prepared to train them. It’s more important to get the mindset right than the skills. You can teach skills but if you hire someone with the wrong attitude you’re in trouble.”


“When you’re recruiting, it’s worth getting others involved, especially when you have a small team. Ask the hard questions and make sure you check references.”


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