Northern Ireland SMEs need more employment support

Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) need more support and guidance about their employment rights and responsibilities, a report published by the Northern Ireland Department of Employment and Learning (DEL) has found.

The DEL said this was vital in embedding good practice, maintaining effective relationships between employer and employee and in reducing the number of workplace disputes.

The report highlighted main issues of concern regarding SME employment rights, including:

  • the need for better information and support 
  • dispute resolution 
  • issues surrounding flexible working 
  • issues surrounding statutory leave entitlement.

Performance and conduct issues were the top causes of disputes for SMEs, according to the report.

The report will now be used as part of the Northern Ireland Executive (NIE) review and consultation into employment law.

Stephen Farry, Minister for Employment and Learning at the NIE, said the review would 'inform the development of mechanisms to enhance SMEs' understanding of and compliance with employment rights and relations good practice, thereby reducing scope for avoidable and costly workplace conflict.'

The DEL is interested in hearing from all businesses during the consultation period, which is open until 5 November 2013.