Ease swine flu burden, FSB urges Burnham

FACED with the prospect of all economic activity being temporarily wiped out by a swine flu epidemic among employees, small firms in Huntingdonshire are urging the Government to help out. The Federation of Small Businesses has urged Health Secretary Andy

FACED with the prospect of all economic activity being temporarily wiped out by a swine flu epidemic among employees, small firms in Huntingdonshire are urging the Government to help out.

The Federation of Small Businesses has urged Health Secretary Andy Burnham to make it simpler to reclaim sick pay and to bring a short-term halt to regulatory visits to companies with fewer than 20 employees.

FSB Huntingdonshire Chairman Malcolm Lyons said: "The FSB is asking the Government to ease the burden on small firms by simplifying the system by which the smallest firms reclaim statutory sick pay. This will mean that businesses with fewer than 20 employees are automatically entitled to repayment of sick pay during the epidemic.

"The FSB is also calling for all routine inspections of businesses in high infection areas are stopped during the pandemic, to reduce the burden of red tape on small firms."


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He added: "Swine flu is expected to have a serious impact on the UK, with a more than five per cent fall in UK GDP this year and up to half of the population infected.

"Although it is difficult to estimate the full effect of the pandemic, we know that small firms - which contribute more than half of UK GDP and employ 60 per cent of the private sector workforce - will be very badly hit. A small firm employing three people could expect to have its entire workforce off for up to two weeks this autumn because of infection or as a result of school closures and transport problems.

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"The FSB has been working with the Cabinet Office to prepare advice for small firms on how to plan for this emergency; to ensure they have good communications with staff in place, plans for remote working where possible, and to prepare for a drop in demand.

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