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Working to be heard above booming Big Brothers

AIMS is the biggest independent association of qualified accountants in the UK specialising in the SME market – the smaller and medium-sized enterprises which are at the heart of the country’s economy.

With over 242 professionally qualified accountants throughout the country, AIMS is dedicated to ensuring that the voice of the smaller businessperson is heard.

However, we are struggling to hear these voices over the loud and booming voices belonging to the Big Brothers of regulation and we often have to ask ourselves whether it is necessary to listen to what they are saying.

These so-called Big Brothers are the many organisations and initiatives financed by the taxpayer which are of limited benefit. Many of these only create more committees, more admin and more red tape and the results are often sorely lacking.

One such example that I provide is the pernickety working time regulations (and I might just add at the start that I have just had my lunch break and I am rested enough to write this).

The original working time regulations (1998 (SI 1988 no1833)) are largely admirable and are effective in their main purpose of ensuring that unscrupulous employers do not “sweat” their workforce.

However, the original regulations did have one important exemption, namely that those who were capable of controlling their own hours (typically, senior managers and similar workers) were exempt from the regulations. The 2006 (amendment) regulations have removed that exemption.

This means that somebody running their own business through a small limited company now has to enter into formal written agree-ment with the company that specific clauses of the working time regulations do not apply to him or her.

More important, the individual has to keep a record of his or her working time. They are already probably working too long and now have to work a little bit longer to create a record (or, if we are being totally realistic, will pluck a figure from the air) and all for absolutely no benefit to anybody.

This point illustrates the need for the Government to have cost-effective help in identifying this red tape which is negatively affecting small businesses by implementing specific measures that can be abolished without causing any disadvantage to the taxpayer or society in general.

Henry Ejdelbaum
Managing director
AIMS Partnership
Regents Park
London NW1

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