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Keeping up with the changing world of employment law can be a headache for busy business owners, so here is a summary of key developments expected in 2017 so you can be one step ahead:

April 2017 sees the following changes coming in:

 

Introduction of gender pay gap reporting: If you have heard about this in the media and wondered what it will mean for your business, please note that it only applies to employers with over 250 staff. The reporting requires larger organisations to publish data on the difference in hourly earnings and bonuses between men and women regardless of role or seniority.

Apprenticeship Levy comes into force: Organisations with a wage bill of more than £3million will be liable to pay this charge which aims to raise funds towards the cost of running apprenticeship schemes. Once you have paid the levy, you will be able to access funding for apprenticeships via a digital account. More information is available on the Government website.

Restrictions to salary sacrifice schemes Many salary sacrifice schemes will be restricted from April 2017, with childcare, pensions, cycle to work schemes and ultra-low emission cars being protected from the changes. The Money Advice Service has some further useful information.

Changes to rules regarding employing foreign workers Employers sponsoring foreign workers with a tier 2 visa will be required to pay an immigration skills charge of £1,000 per worker (£364 for small employers and charities) on top of the current fees for visa applications. The minimum salary threshold for “experienced workers” applying for a tier 2 visa will also increase to £30,000 (some health and education workers will be exempt from this change until 2019.)

National Minimum Wage changes aligned We had got used to the national minimum wage increasing every October, however with the introduction of the National Living Wage last April, the review cycles are being aligned and wage increases will now take place every April. The rate for over 25s is set to increase from £7.20 to £7.50. There is a website to help employers comply with the new wage rates here

Increases to statutory benefits Rates for statutory maternity, paternity, shared parental leave and adoptive leave pay will increase marginally from £139.58 to £140.98 plus statutory sick pay is to increase from £88.45 to £89.35. Unhelpfully, the dates for these increases are marginally different – 2nd April for family-related leave and 6th April for sick pay increase! 

In addition, look out for the following during the year:

  • Pensions Auto-Enrolment Many companies have been used pensions auto-enrolment for some time, but the smallest and some newer companies will be enrolling during 2017. Over the past year, at Kathryn Roynon HR & Training Consultancy we have supported small businesses with introducing these schemes, including handling employee consultations, setting up schemes and importantly getting the reporting done on time to avoid fees for our clients! If you are not sure when your staging date is, check online here.
  • Watch out for more case law arising from the “gig economy” following the high-profile Uber case, in which self-employed drivers successfully argued they are in fact workers, thus giving them more employment rights and benefits.
  • Prepare for the EU General Data Protection Regulation. Although this does not come into force until May 2018, employers are advised to start auditing records during 2017 to check that they have the relevant permissions to store and handle employee data. New governance and record-keeping requirements mean that employers will also have to create or amend policies and processes on privacy notices, data breach responses and subject access requests. And if you’re wondering how Brexit may affect this, it is anticipated that the UK will still be part of the EU when the legislation comes into force next year.

We hope you have found this guide helpful. For further information or assistance with ensuring your business is compliant, contact Kathryn Roynon HR & Training Consultancy on 01249 701486.

A HR Health Check from Kathryn Roynon HR & Training Consultancy will provide you with a detailed overview of whether your contracts, processes and policies are legally compliant, whether they protect your business sufficiently and whether you have the right people practices in place to meet your business goals, including recruiting, training and managing the performance of your people effectively. At the end of the review, you will receive a detailed report and action plan to get your people practices into the best shape for 2017 and beyond.