By Marcus Leach

With an increasing number of SMEs forced to spend significant time and expenses on navigating the increasingly complex legislative and regulatory landscape, Sage UK has launched a new, innovative pay-as-you-go business advisory service.

Research shows that the country’s entrepreneurs are spending £2.4 billion on employment law and £2.1 billion each on health and safety administration. Yet only 14 per cent of SMEs have the necessary HR expertise within their organisation, according the a survey of 1400 SMEs.

Sage People Advice offers a reliable, no-nonsense support service covering HR, Employment Law and Health & Safety advice. Designed for business owners who don’t have in-house HR expertise and HR professionals that require additional support, the service provides businesses with access to a professional and flexible service when they need it.

The challenge facing small business owners is being driven by a constantly evolving legislative landscape and the prevalence of a ‘sue the boss’ culture.

In 2010 there were 12 major changes to UK employment law that came into force according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and the CIPD predicts there will be an additional 15 significant changes in 2011. This is on top of an increase in employment Tribunal claims, which rose to £236,000 last year - a record figure and a rise of 56% on 2009 - with businesses spending almost £4,000 on average to defend themselves.

“Every business knows what a nightmare it can be finding a safe path through the ever-growing jungle of UK employment law, not to mention complying with Health & Safety regulations,” explained Matthew Forrest, Head of Commercial Marketing, Small Business Division, Sage UK.

“Entrepreneurs can’t afford to ignore legal and people issues, but it can be difficult to justify bringing in expertise if it ties you to a lengthy contract. Particularly when they tell you what the law is rather than solve your problem. That’s why we launched Sage People Advice as a pay as you use service - it gives small businesses access to professional advice and allows them to only pay for the expertise they require, when they need it.”