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87% of small firms see no reduction in the administrative burden of employment law
By Aviné McNally, Acting Director SFA
Nov 12, 2013

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  • 87% of small firms see no reduction in the administrative burden of employment law
  • 46% view employment law as a significant burden
  • 64% of small businesses do not have a dedicated HR resource

The Small Firms Association National Employment Law Survey shows that employment law remains a significant problem for small business.  

SFA Acting Director Avine McNally said “As an employer, there are over 40 pieces of primary legislation relating to employment, that must be dealt with, irrespective of whether the company employs 1 or 1,000 staff.  Employment law really is a “minefield” for small business”

Some of the main findings of the survey show that: 

  • 64% of small businesses do not have a dedicated HR resource to assist them in dealing with the complexities of employment law; 
  • 46% of respondents viewed employment law compliance to be a significant regulatory burden; 
  • 87% indicated that there was no visible reduction in employment law administrative burden;
  • One in five view employment law as a disincentive to employing staff; 
  • 64% were aware of the Jobs Plus Initiative, the new employer incentive for recruiting long term unemployed.

“Employment law is an area that is becoming increasingly onerous for businesses, particularly for those firms that do not have any specialist in-house resources.  While it is important the legislation protects the employment relationship, imposing compliance and administrative costs on firms weakens their ability to adapt to changing market conditions,” said McNally.

The survey shows that small firms have many policies and procedures in place.  99% of companies have a health & safety statement; 88% have an anti-harassment/bullying policy and 98% have discipline & dismissal procedures.  

McNally highlighted that 83% of companies have an email and internet policy, and stated that it is an area that employers realise can cause major issues for them as email/internet and social media is an increasingly important part of the personal lives of employees and of business life.

“Employers must remember that they will be held legally liable if their employees misuse their IT systems and they need to regulate its use and application. Key to this is to have a comprehensive policy in place and to ensure that employees read and understand it”, said McNally.  

The survey reflects a large number of employees taking their entitlement to carer’s leave and parental/force majeure leave. 81% of companies recorded employee applications for parental/force majeure leave, whilst 50% recorded applications for carer’s leave.  

“Being on the wrong side of just one piece of legislation, however unwittingly, can exact a very high price on a business. “‘Lack of knowledge’ is not a defence in employment law cases – the only defence is to be prepared.  It is vital that business owners are aware of their employment obligations and be proactive in the introduction of policies to ensure the protection of all parties in the workplace”, concluded McNally.

The Employment Law Survey was carried out in the September 2013.  The questionnaire was distributed to 547 small firms and the sample was drawn from manufacturing, distribution, retail and services sectors and from a regionally representative sample across the Irish Republic.

Aviné McNally
Acting Director
Confederation House
84-86 Lower Baggot Street
Dublin 2
T: +353 1 605 1633
F: +353 1 638 1633
M: +353 87 645 0205E:

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