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Sage debuts pay-as-you-go advice service for small businesses

Sage UK has launched Sage People Advice, a pay-as-you-go business advisory service to help small and medium-sized enterprises, which are obliged to commit significant time and financial resources to navigating the increasingly complex legislative and regulatory landscape.

Businesses are constantly challenged by an evolving legislative landscape and the prevalence of a 'sue the boss' culture, Sage said.

In 2010, 12 major changes to UK employment law came into force, according to the CIPD and it predicts there will be an additional 15 significant changes in 2011.

Employers are seeing their legal bills soar as laid-off workers take them to court to dispute the size of redundancy settlements, according to recent research from commercial law firm EMW. The EMW report finds the number of redundancy pay cases accepted by employment tribunals rocketed by 76% to 19,000 in the year to 1 April 2010 and a further 8,600 cases were accepted in the six months to 1 October 2010.

EMW says that employees might be taking action against their ex-employers because, having been part of a second or third wave of redundancies, they have received a less attractive compensation package than colleagues who lost their jobs first.

The news comes amid press reports that business secretary Vince Cable is today to give a speech addressing the regulatory issues for small businesses. Sage People Advice is a support service covering HR, employment law and health & safety advice. Designed for HR professionals who require additional support and business owners who don't have in-house HR expertise, the service aims to provide businesses with a professional and flexible service. Paul Tooth, head of Sage UK's HR and payroll unit, said: "It can be challenging, even for HR professionals, to find a safe path through the ever-growing jungle of UK employment law, not to mention complying with health & safety regulations.

"Businesses can't afford to ignore legal and people issues, but it can be difficult to justify bringing in more expertise if it ties you to a lengthy contract in this economic climate," said Tooth. For a single fixed charge, users get up to 45 minutes of telephone support. After each advice call, customers receive a secure email summarising the next steps with the relevant supporting documents attached. Where possible, customers will be supported by the same adviser for any individual case.