The latest meeting of the All Party Group on SMEs, hosted at the Law Society for Northern Ireland, provided an opportunity for the Minister and attendees to input into the ongoing dialogue around what is required to break down barriers for SME growth.
Alastair Ross MLA, Assembly Private Secretary for the Enterprise Minister facilitated questions from attendees to Minister Farry and Rosemary Lundy, Employment Law Partner at Arthur Cox on the problems that SMEs encounter due to current regulation.
This seminar is the second in a series of events to promote the “1 more in 4” initiative which aims to create an environment whereby every SME in Northern Ireland can employ one more person in the next four years.
Judith Cochrane MLA, Chair of the All Party Group on SMEs said: “Today’s interactive session has been very useful in updating attendees on the work the Department for Employment and Learning is doing to assist SME growth.”
“The Minister has highlighted the importance of apprenticeship schemes, outlined proposals for addressing the tech-skills gap, and provided an update on his review of Employment Law here in Northern Ireland.”
“One of the biggest challenges for entrepreneurs who are setting up their own businesses is the navigation of employment practices and this review provides a real opportunity to make positive changes.”
Dr Stephen Farry MLA, Minister for Employment and Learning said: “Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom to which employment law is devolved. We have the opportunity to introduce reforms that fully take into account developments in neighbouring jurisdictions, but which also address our local circumstances.”
“I want to see a system put in place that promotes good practice and harmonious relations in the workplace, and prioritises alternative dispute resolution services when relations breaks down, and makes our tribunal system efficient and effective for those disputes that go that far.”
Gordon Gough, Chief Executive of Enterprise NI said: “Becoming an employer brings a huge amount of statutory responsibility”.
“Ensuring that the process is accessible and flexible will ultimately encourage potential employers in Northern Ireland to take the plunge and offer career opportunities.”
“This seminar has allowed attendees to have some of the most pressing questions answered and to outline recurring problems such as proper approach to workplace dispute, employment tribunal practice and the redundancy making process that many face in their operations.”
“We are hopeful that the Employment Minister will take on board the input that he has received and that it will ultimately be reflected in the new employment policy.”