Queen’s Speech 2014 – The Small Business Enterprise and Employment Bill


Friend or foe for SME?– only time will tell

In a significant move that will specifically address the growing needs of small businesses, the 2014 Queen’s Speech saw the landmark introduction of The Small Business Enterprise and Employment Bill.  This is heralded as another boost for small companies and sole traders. The legislation will look to address the imbalance in the marketplace and improve access to both finance and public procurement contracts. The Bill includes measures to encourage prompt payment of suppliers, improve access to finance and set in law targets to cut red tape.

The Bill hopes to improve payment practices between businesses and their customers by removing the problem of late payment and improve the transparency on payment terms from larger businesses to small suppliers.

The Bill will also tackle key employment law policies including addressing minimum wage and zero hours contract abuses. Childcare regulations will be made more flexible to benefit working families.

The Bill will be published on 16 June 2014, followed by its passage through both Houses in time for the General Election in May 2015.

The Government hopes that small businesses will welcome the long-term goal of the Bill which it describes as ‘essentially to build a stronger economy and improve the general climate in which small businesses operate’.  In the words of Prime Minister David Cameron: “Countries rise when their people rise. So this Queen’s Speech is unashamedly pro-work, pro-business and pro-aspiration.”

Andrew Firman, partner in the Corporate and Commercial team comments ‘Numbers of  SMEs reached a six-year post-recession high in 2013 of 2.16M with growth of 4.2% in the past two years as compared with growth of 3.3% amongst large employers.  The strongest identified need for SMEs in recent months has been for greater funding which the Bill seeks to address and which is encouraging but it remains to be seen whether the employment law changes will have any significant impact in the long run.

Andrew Firman (Partner) and Naimi Shah (Trainee Solicitor)
Corporate and Commercial Team

 

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