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9 Sep 2013

By Keith Findlay

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Accord Energy Solutions 013

Workers should not have to sacrifice employment rights to enjoy the benefits of shared business ownership, a north- east boss says.

Alan Spence, director of Aberdeen-based oil and gas service firm Accord Energy Solutions, believes employee ownership should reward staff,and not involve any trade-off.

He said: “When James Arthur, Phil Stockton and I (the three founding directors) left our jobs with a multinational, FTSE 100 company to set up Accord Energy Solutions in 2010 we had one overriding goal; we wanted to establish a company owned by its staff.

“Over the past three years, Accord's growth has exceeded our expectations and employee ownership has been at the heart of that growth. We now employ 40 people and have a turnover in excess of £4million.

“At no time have we asked our employees to exchange their rights for a financial stake in the company. Instead we’ve just recently appointed two employees to the board of directors and two employee trustees.”

New rules which came into force at the start of this month mean certain employment rights, such as flexible working and maternity leave, can be traded for a stake in a business.

The UK Government has said the measures will allow growing small and medium-sized enterprises to strengthen their resources.

Staff can swap the rights for shares worth at least £2,000, with the first £50,000 exempt from capital gains tax.

Mr Spence added: “Employee ownership shouldn’t dictate an exchange of rights. Instead, it should empower staff and give them a valuable stake in the company’s future.”