Research by Aviva shows SMEs rely on friends and family to muddle-through rather than seek professional legal advice

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A staggering 38% of SMEs admit they take advice from their friends and family (rather than lawyers), when fulfilling their obligations as an employer.

The research, by Aviva, finds just 13% actually consult qualified financial advisers.

This low level of engagement with professional legal advisers comes despite the fact a third of SME owners say the top hurdle they face are financial hurdles and admin when setting up. An even greater percentage – 85% - admit they know little about their legal obligations as an employer.

Legal assistance SMEs will face this year include advice for setting up pensions auto-enrolment. Currently 21% of SMEs say they have not yet set a scheme, while 36% of micro-employers (those with 1-5 employees), say they didn’t think they needed to.

Angus Eaton, managing director, commercial lines, Aviva, said: “While it’s only natural to want to consult with family and friends, not being able to understand legal obligations as an employer or business owner is leaving some SMEs in danger of breaking the law.”

The research found 25% of SMEs wrongly thought employers’ liability insurance is only legally required once a business has more than one employee.

Want to know where to turn?

Reward Live – the two-day exhibition and conference for business heads and reward and benefits professionals – will feature presentations on auto-enrolment, and what the implications of recent pension changes are.

The event is free to visit, and takes place on 13-14 May at Edgbaston, Birmingham. For more details, click here