Firms are being urged not to “drop their guard” on safety as more people return to work on Monday amid hopes of a rebound in business activity as the lockdown continues to ease.
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said around half of smaller firms expect their revenues to increase over the coming three months, the highest proportion since the summer of 2015.
A survey of almost 1,700 business owners found that almost three out of five expect their performance to improve.
But one in seven feared they are likely to make some or all of their staff redundant this quarter.
FSB chairman Mike Cherry said: “It’s fantastic that our shops, hairdressers and gyms can get back to doing what they do best all over England from today, with some restrictions easing in other parts of the UK as well.
“The certainty provided by the Government’s road map is filling many small business owners with renewed confidence. We live in hope that the virus stays in retreat so the remaining indicative dates for unlocking can be met, enabling our vital night-time economies, offices and travel and tourism businesses to get back to it as well.
“It’s worrying to see such a sizeable proportion of employers fearing redundancies over the coming months.”
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “As we reopen the economy, we must not drop our guard on workplace safety. If workplaces aren’t Covid-secure, coronavirus cases could spiral out of control again.
“Ministers must tell the Health and Safety Executive to crack down on bad bosses who play fast and loose with workers’ safety. It’s a national scandal that not a single employer has been prosecuted and fined for putting workers or the public at risk.
“Vaccinations can’t be a substitute for comprehensive health and safety measures to make workplaces safe.”