2 October 2013

Martin Luther King might not have been moved to write a speech about it but, according to Business Minister Michael Fallon, 1 October 2013 was "Freedom Day" for UK firms.

"The reforms coming into force are part of the Government’s drive to make the UK the best place to start and grow a business," he said. "They respond directly to issues raised by business, including through the Red Tape Challenge, which invites firms to give their views on which regulations should be removed or improved."

The changes now in place include employers no longer being held liable for workplace accidents and injuries where they have taken all reasonable steps to protect their employees.

Also in the health and safety field, the Government has simplified the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) and removed the requirement for the Health and Safety Executive to approve training and qualifications of appointed first-aid personnel.

Changes have also been made to third party harassment legislation, so that employers will no longer be explicitly liable for third party harassment of staff, for example by customers or member of the public.

Finally, with regard to company reporting, a "raft of redundant and unnecessary statutory forms" have been replaced with more flexible systems that are better suited to business needs.

"Each successive Freedom Day is helping give hard-pressed businesses the breathing space they need to grow and create jobs," the Minister said. "For small firms, less time spent filling in forms means more time planning the next project, winning the next contract or looking for the next young recruit."

From Paul Clarke, business writer for Croner