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FSB: Small firms committed to rewarding staff fairly

More than four-fifths (84%) of all UK small businesses refuse to hire staff on non-guaranteed zero-hours contracts, according to recent findings from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

Meanwhile 60% of small firms were already said to be paying their staff at least £7.83 an hour before the recent National Living Wage (NLW) increase in April for over-25s.

Almost three-quarters (70%) of small businesses affected by the latest NLW rise have had to cut their profitability or absorb additional overheads. Meanwhile 41% admitted to having to increase the price of their goods and services to pay their staff fairly.

Mike Cherry, National Chairman, FSB, said: “Very few of our members use zero-hours contracts. Where they do, they’re creating arrangements that work for both employer and employee alike.

“Small firms often play host to the kinds of supportive, flexible and family-centred working environments that can be found lacking in big corporates.

“What today’s findings show, once again, is that they also reward staff fairly.”

The FSB’s latest findings also point to a rise in the number of school-leavers lacking work experience in readiness to take on the world of full-time employment.

70% of small firms surveyed believe most school leavers are ill-prepared and the FSB believes a return of compulsory work experience for students aged 16 and under would be hugely beneficial.

Furthermore, the FSB has called on the Government to consider increasing the Apprenticeship Minimum Wage (AMW) which currently stands at £3.70 an hour for under-19s.

“Young people taking on apprenticeships should not be paid so little. If we really want to create parity of esteem between academic and vocational routes into work, then paying apprentices £25 a day is not helpful,” added Cherry.

“Equally, any Government which prides itself on backing free enterprise should look at bringing work experience back into every school.”

Cherry suggests more needs to be done to “ensure [Apprenticeship] Levy funding can be shared across supply chains”.

“We also need to see the exemption for training and assessment costs – which currently only applies to those with under 50 employees – extended to all small firms.”

Prime Minister, Theresa May, confirmed last month that the Government is already reviewing the effectiveness of the Apprenticeship Levy since its roll-out last April.

“What I want to do is ensure that every young person has the opportunity of pursuing the course – be it of education or training – that is right for them and is going to give them the best start in life,” said May.

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