Employment Forum Recommendations on the Proposed Family Friendly Employment Rights.
Jersey Chamber of Commerce – Official Response.
Wednesday 13th February 2019
As the largest employer representation body on the island, Chamber wholeheartedly supports the provision of good and fair employment for our member's employees. We must also present a counterpoint to this draft law that represents the needs and pressures of our members.
Chamber accepts that the changes will all provide significant benefit to employees and the wellbeing of parents and therefore to Jersey as a whole. Unfortunately, the recommendation passes the burden of providing this benefit largely onto employers, which is something that the Jersey Chamber of Commerce feels requires our comment.
The first challenge employers will face is an increase in costs: of funding the longer paid period of the recommendation as well as those incurred in seeking parental cover for parents. The current market is extremely buoyant, so to find the right person to cover business activities for a short period is an expensive and time-consuming process. For some smaller businesses it will truly be a deciding factor for whether to trade at all, for others it will be something that will erode small margins or could even tip a business into a loss-making position. In addition to this, the fact that the recommendation provides both parents the right to take up to 52 weeks leave, it will make it even more difficult for the employer to fill what could be sporadic but significant gaps in their workforce.
In the UK, employers supporting their employees in taking advantage of their rights under the UK Maternity Legislation are able to seek funding from the government, up to 103% of these costs for small businesses. If Jersey is seeking parity with the UK in terms of the rights it is providing to employees, then some consideration must made to fund those proposals from the public purse. The benefits that accrue to Jersey will be tangible to the whole island, so therefore Chamber feels that the island should fully assist with their funding and not expect our businesses to largely fund them alone.
We are behind the underlying aims of the family friendly recommendation, but feel that there should be some support offered to our businesses who already provide significant funding to the States through employing taxpayers, paying social security contributions, collecting GST and providing tax income from company dividend payments and 0/10 tax contributions.
Eliot Lincoln, President of Jersey Chamber of Commerce said: “Whilst we fully support the aims of this potential new legislation, seeing our families supported, healthy, well cared for and educated as they become the next generation of employers and business leaders, we feel that the financial burden to be put on our businesses is too great and will place significant challenges on the smaller businesses in particular.”
Lorna Pestana, Chair of Jersey Chamber of Commerce HR Committee, said: “We understand what this draft law is hoping to achieve and want to see our working families happy. However, a great financial pressure will be placed on businesses and this could also see many skills removed from the marketplace with parents on leave for so long. There must be more of a balance.”
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