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Federation of Small Businesses urges Health Secretary to adopt proposals to help small firms through the swine flu pandemic

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) today proposed solutions to ease the pressure on small firms as a result of the swine flu pandemic.

In a letter to the Secretary of State for Health, Andy Burnham, the FSB requested a meeting to discuss the threat of the pandemic to small firms. The FSB proposals include:

. simplifying the system by which the smallest firms are reimbursed for paying out statutory sick pay, and
. putting a stop to unnecessary routine business inspections during the height of the pandemic

John Wright, National Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses said:

"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 alone and up to half of the population infected. Although it is still difficult to estimate the full effect of the spread 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 only three people could expect to have all of its workforce off for up to two weeks this autumn - either due to infection or through absences as a result of school closures and transport problems.

"The Federation of Small Businesses (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 prepare for a drop in demand.

"The FSB is also 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 small businesses with fewer than 20 employees are automatically entitled to repayment of sick pay during the epidemic.

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

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