The Sale of Goods Act (SOGA) hub provides comprehensive and up-to-date guidance on the Sale of Goods Act for retailers and business support organisations.
All the training and promotional materials provided are available to access online or to download in a variety of formats. Business can print and save, add their own branding, copy and paste into existing documents or link to them via the business website or intranet, or share the information directly with members of staff.
The Distance Selling (DS) hub provides guidance for retailers and business support organisation on regulations affecting buying and selling goods and services via the internet, phone, mail order, email, interactive TV or text.
Businesses can use the information and materials on the hub by copying and pasting into existing documents, downloading and printing or by linking directly to their website/intranet.
Both the SOGA and DS hubs offer the facility to register to receive regular relevant regulation updates.
‘Simplicity’ is designed to bring peace of mind within minutes to small firms struggling with poor paying customers. It offers simple pricing, simple administration and a simple and fast claims process on all debts over £200 so that if a payment remains outstanding, the potential impact on a company’s cashflow is minimised.
Launched by Euler Hermes in the UK and Ireland after extensive market research and a successful roll-out of a similar product in Belgium and The Netherlands, Simplicity is the first product of its kind to specifically address the needs of small businesses by removing the need for credit limits.
Businesses are covered in the event of non-payment or insolvency of their customer for a minimum of 60 percent of the unpaid debt value to an agreed maximum limit* as standard. This can be increased to 90 percent with a higher maximum if the policyholder applies for a Euler Hermes ‘grade’, (via Euler Hermes’ online platform) and their customer is assessed as an acceptable risk.
“Simplicity directly addresses the needs of the small business community,” said Lukas Neckermann, commercial director of Euler Hermes. “Traditionally credit insurers have focused mainly on developing products to meet the needs of medium and larger sized enterprises. It was time to create solutions specifically tailored to the small business sector.
“Small businesses recognise the benefit of protecting their business against the risk of not getting paid, but existing credit insurance policies have been seen as being too costly, confusing and impractical for a business with little by way of credit management support. With Simplicity Euler Hermes has created an ‘out of the box’ product that requires no more administration than a motor or home contents policy, but that provides a level of protection that will help business owners sleep more comfortably at night.”
The comments, from the alternative lending provider Nucleus Commercial Finance, challenges the current practice from some quarters of the asset-based lending industry that allows businesses to lend to ailing companies in the full knowledge that they will fail – and are even allegedly made to fail – sometimes only days after new funding has been agreed.
Chirag Shah, managing director of Nucleus Commercial Finance, said that the practice needs to stop, and that plans by the Asset Based Finance Association (ABFA) to draft a new Code of Practice are now well overdue: “A new Code is needed to bring greater clarity and credibility to an industry that is in danger of self-imploding,” he said.
“But this whole unsatisfactory issue can be resolved by one simple rule: if the ABFA actively discourages the payment of termination fees to factors that lend to businesses that subsequently fail within a period of perhaps six weeks, it will solve all of the problems at once.
“Businesses that are bringing the industry into disrepute will be isolated, and very soon put out of business, and the reputation of factors, brokers and insolvency practitioners who are often involved in theturnaround process will be better protected.”
British businesses will be helped to tackle long-term sickness absence in the workplace thanks to a new independent assessment and advisory service aimed at getting people back to work and away from long-term sickness benefits, the Minister for Welfare Reform Lord Freud has announced.
The scheme will save employers up to £160 million a year in statutory sick pay and increase economic output by up to £900 million a year.
Currently, only 10 per cent of employees of small firms have access to an occupational health service, compared with more than half of staff in larger firms. The new service will enable employers of all sizes to access expert advice to help them manage sickness absence in the workplace.
This new initiative will ensure employers receive bespoke, independent advice for cases of sickness absence lasting more than four weeks. Experts agree this approach will help to stop thousands of people falling out of work and onto long-term sickness benefits.
The Minister for Welfare Reform Lord Freud said:
“Long-term sickness absence is a burden to business, to the taxpayer and to the thousands of people who get trapped on benefits when they could actually work.
“So for the first time, all employers, big or small, will have access to a service that offers the early support they need to keep people in work and fulfil their aspirations.
“It’s further proof that this Government is confronting all the challenges facing Britain and making sure we compete and thrive in the global race.”
The lack of advice or support is one of the main barriers faced by employers tackling sickness absence in the workplace. Under the current system, the vast majority of fit notes declare employees to be unfit for work.
The new service is part of a series of measures announced today by the Government to help employers support their staff and prevent employees needlessly going onto sickness benefits, and it is part of the Government’s response to the recommendations of health and business experts Dame Carol Black and David Frost.
Dame Carol Black said:
“I very much welcome the Government’s decision to press ahead with the new independent assessment and advisory service which David and I recommended in our Review.
“A new independent assessment and advice service will address the sicknote culture and offer people the best possible support to get back to work quickly.
“What David and I found in our Review is that far too many people with potentially manageable conditions – like stress or back pain – are effectively being signed off work for life, sliding from a short spell of sickness absence to a life of long-term benefit dependency.
“The changes being made by the government today will begin to change that. They will ensure that employers and employees get the best possible access to occupational health advice and support. And the new service will also provide much-needed support for GPs too, so they can spend more time helping their patients and less time having to police the benefit system.”
The independent occupational health assessment and advice service is expected to be up and running in 2014.
LibDem Business Minister Jo Swinson told a House of Commons Business Committee on women’s workplace rights earlier this week that employees should be able to request the right to come into work earlier or later to avoid peak time travel.
All employees with at least six months service would be able to request flexible working from next year, with Ms Swinson advocating this be extended to allow staff to use it to avoid the rush hour crush.
The Forum’s Head of Policy, Alex Jackman, said: “Small businesses shouldn’t have administrative complexities thrust upon them because our roads are congested and often poorly maintained, the rail network is bursting at the seams and lacking adequate rolling stock. It’s just nonsensical.
“The notion workers should be allowed to pick and choose their hours because of successive governments’ failure to deliver credible improvements to the country’s transport infrastructure is ridiculous.
“If flexible working works for businesses they will do it themselves. What they don’t need is unworkable suggestions from ministers made on the hoof.”
He added: “Just imagine what this would mean on the ground for most businesses: longer opening hours would mean higher office running costs – will the Government pay for the increase in energy bills?
“Then there’s key holder responsibility issues, monitoring time keeping would be a job in itself, and crucial to any business is the ability of employees to communicate with ease and consistency. Wildly different working hours would also make business-to-business communication much more difficult.
“Maybe the Government should ask schools to start earlier instead, thereby allowing children to be delivered earlier and easing the traditional rush hour for others. Or maybe they should just up investment of roads and railways to address the capacity issues.”
The Forum has previously been critical of the extension of workers’ rights which puts onerous demands on business owners. March sees parental leave rights following the birth or adoption of a child increasing from three to four months.
“If Government wants small business to help boost the UK economy it must help not hinder. To hear a business minister advocating yet more burdensome rights for employees is frankly concerning.
“We have asked to meet with Jo Swinson to discuss this matter further,” added Jackman.