engage magazine issue 005 \\\'07 - Page 11

NEWS FOCUS 11 News Small firms’ strategies include going green More than 85% of small and medium-sized businesses claim that becoming environmentally friendly will be part of their business strategy in the next five years, according to new research. Eclipse Internet found that smaller firms are taking an increasing interest in ‘going green’ however, the majority of them do not feel they are being supported by the government in their efforts. Small businesses were seen to be concentrating on the small ways in which carbon emissions can be cut, such as recycling (76%), reducing waste (67%) and encouraging staff to turn off equipment when not in use (30%). But employers in small firms are not taking up more drastic measures to cut carbon emissions, such as introducing flexible working to reduce the amount staff commute, the study found. Almost 82% of businesses surveyed believe they need to be given more guidelines from government on how to cut their carbon footprint. Only 10% of those surveyed said they feel they know what they are doing when it comes to going green. Pension gap crisis for small firm’s employees Despite employers’ encouragement, employees in small and medium-sized businesses are not making enough contribution to their pensions, new research suggests. A survey from Barclays Financial Planning has found that 51% of employers in smaller firms are actively encouraging their staff to increase pension contributions because they are concerned their employees are making insufficient contributions. According to the survey, almost a fifth of employees in these firms are not making any contribution at all, despite the fact that 29% of employers put in more than 6% of salary towards a pension on behalf of their employers. A significant 37% of employers have less than 25% of employees in the company pension scheme, research found. The survey also showed almost half (48%) of these employers provide access to professional financial advice for employees and 36% regularly update their staff on changes to the pension scheme. 2008….. Be Aware! The Companies Act 2006 The Companies Act 2006 received Royal Assent on the 8th November 2006 and will be implemented over the next two years. The Act aims to ease the burden on small companies even though it contains a whopping 1,300 sections. The Statutory Statement of Directors’ Duties From April 2008, it will be no longer be a requirement for private companies to have a company secretary (s.270). A ‘sole director’ will suffice. Filing will still be necessary however, forms and time limits will be changing. In order to have no secretary it may be necessary to alter the articles to remove the requirement of a company secretary. • Subject to s.172 (1): • directors will have statutory duty to promote the success of the company • a director must act in a manner he/she considers most likely to promote the success of the company for the benefit of the shareholders with regard to: • the consequences of any long term decision • the interests of the company’s employees • business relationships with suppliers, customers and others • the community and the environment • maintaining a reputation for high standards of business conduct and • the need to act fairly as between members The Act also provides that a shareholder may enforce these statutory duties through the courts. ISSUE FIVE 2007 engage | uk