Self Employment and the failure of Government to support them.
I had worked for the BII as a membership consultant for thirteen years and recruited many thousands of members, then a couple of years ago I was accused of having had two failed businesses and being an inappropriate person to represent the BII recruiting members, by the Director of Membership following a complaint from the Chairman of the Devon and Cornwall Region, also a Director of the BII.
I have never had a failed business fortunately, and have been running the same small business for the last twenty five years, rescuing failed catering and licensed businesses, when a suitable opportunity appeared, in addition to recruiting membership for the BII, unfortunately a labour of love in the thought that I was helping people in the industry, rather than financial viability in recent years.
This issue has been raised before by myself and others, without repeating all the details again in depth.
I was immediately relieved of my position in Devon where I lived, naively I had assumed that some sort of investigation would take place and clear my name, not on your life.
The GMB offered to take it up and did nothing.
The FSB are good on high profile talking and would appear to be very selective about actions of abuse from my sources, they do not take the sort of actions that ACAS does.
The woman that had made the complaint to the Devon & Cornwall Chairman didn’t know me from Adam when I talked to her, said it was someone else, in fact, said it was another membership consultant, who had been involved with the Chairman in a Punch Lease and lost an eye watering amount of money between them in a very short time, they didn’t read the small print or was it business incompetence? The Chairman claimed after a few beers to have got a very favourable valuation for his Fixtures and Fittings from Punch, which seemed very generous on their part at the time kniowing Punch.
I digress, with this scenario I assumed the good old BII would do the right thing, investigate and clear my name, no chance.
Bearing in mind that the allegations were totally false, there was absolutely no body to turn to the GMB were worse than useless in spite of their talk, all it needed was a letter threatening exposure of the BII failure to take action, again nothing.
I phoned ACAS for advice, because I was Self Employed, they would not even discuss it, the only recourse was taking the BII to court, initial estimates started at £50K, far beyond my pocket to justify clearing my name.
This effectively means that there is no body to represent the Self Employed or even investigate any abuse of the this segment of the working population, who are the main stay of small businesses.
The most idle person can take a job or fail to get a job, yet has redress via ACAS for some imagined slight, costing thousands of pounds, costing the company involved possibly double that which is paid out, in some cases crippling the company.
Yet the Self Employed, who represent the backbone of the serious working population have no redress without taking court action.
I am heartily sick of talking to honest, hard working people who are being exploited by unscrupulous landlords in the pub industry and several other industries with no forceful source of advice or redress where applicable.
It could very easily come within ACAS’s brief.
In my case, I was fortunate enough to raise the issue through a number of outlets and an investigation was convened, I was totally cleared and the recommendation was that the BII paid me compensation for loss of earnings and damage to my reputation, which they completely ignored, they removed the Membership Director with a decent hand shake, if I had been employed by the BII the situation would have been totally different.
This failure to act positively by the BII does raise questions as to how effective they are protecting members issues in these troubled times, I have been a member far longer than a consultant for them, which counted for nothing.
I had spent thirteen years recruiting and received nothing apart from a damaged reputation, the removed director a fraction of that time.
This failure by successive Governments to provide a secure body of advice and action for the real working people behind small businesses in the country is a serious error.
ACAS could well encompass this role and bring a level of equality to the one growth area that country needs to get out of the recession.
If you agree with my thoughts please send a copy of this article to the Prime Minister and your local MP, in addition anyone else that may benefit.
I sent some copies of the idea to colleagues for their thoughts, with some interesting responses, if you agree please email us your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.