Kent’s small and medium-sized businesses would rather not employ workers on zero-hours contracts, are confident about their prospects but worry about post-election uncertainty, research by Warners Solicitors has found.
Seventy percent of small and medium-sized businesses would support a ban on exploitative ‘zero-hours’ contracts, are optimistic about their future but are unsure how a new law on shared parental leave will affect them.
These are some of the findings from a recent survey of small and medium-sized businesses at the Sevenoaks Business Show in Kent last month.
With only one day before the UK general election the main parties are keen to woo the UK’s five-million plus SMEs.
At the business conference in the STAG Community Arts Centre, Michael Fallon, Conservative MP for Sevenoaks and secretary state of defence, said that local business owners should take credit for the fall in unemployment.
But Kent’s SMEs do have a firm opinion on another high-profile business and election issue: zero-hours contracts (casual contracts that enable employers to hire workers with no guarantee of work and often at short notice).
The Labour party has said it would end “exploitative” zero-hours contracts. Labour leader Ed Miliband has said that a Labour government would give employees on zero-hours contracts the legal right to a fixed-hours contract after they have consistently worked regular hours. However, how this would work in practice and be implemented is unclear.
Only 10% of SME owners we surveyed said that they’d consider employing people on zero-hours contracts. Sixty per cent said they wouldn’t and thirty per cent said they didn’t know. Seven in ten of those questioned said they’d support a ban on exploitative zero-hour contracts.
All of the SMEs questioned were confident about the economic prospects for the South-East and their business (80% were ‘very’ confident and 20% were ‘somewhat’ confident).
With most opinion polls predicting a hung parliament, the SMEs we surveyed said their biggest challenge over the next year was an uncertain outcome in the election on May 7.
Another challenge cited was “managing growth” as their business benefits from the improved economic climate.
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