Employment Law

As well as the start of the new tax year, 6 April is a busy day for employment law. Much of what comes into force this year affects only larger employers, but I would be doing less than my job if I did not alert you to what they will shortly have to comply with, in case it comes winging its way towards smaller businesses. I have summarised the most important changes below:

Rates Increase (this does affect you!)

* National Minimum Wage rises are as follows:

Under 18 18-20 21-24 25 & over apprentice  £4.05 £5.60 £7.05 £7.50 £3.50

* SSP will rise to £89.35 per week

* Statutory Maternity Pay/Adoption Pay/Paternity Pay/Shared Parental Pay increases to £140.98 for pay weeks commencing on or after 2 April 2017.

* The maximum week’s pay for statutory redundancy pay purposes increases to £489.

Gender Pay Gap Reporting

Employers with a headcount of more than 250 will now have to report the average difference between a man’s and a woman’s aggregate wage or salary, plus the number of male and female employees in different pay quartiles, and a breakdown of who receives bonuses, by gender. 5 April is the ‘snapshot’ date and figures will be calculated looking back over the previous year.

Apprenticeship Levy

This will be payable by employers with an annual pay bill of more than £3m through the PAYE system, and the money generated will fund apprenticeship training. The good news is that smaller employers who do not pay the levy can still apply for apprenticeship funding, 100% in the case of those with fewer than 50 employees taking on apprentices aged 16-18 (or 19-24 for young people leaving care or in receipt of an education, health and care plan or EHCP).

Immigration Skills Charge

Employers that sponsor skilled workers under tier 2 of the immigration points-based system will have to pay a levy of £1,000 per certificate of sponsorship per year (£364 for small employers and charities).

The tier 2 (general) salary threshold will increase to £30,000 for migrants who are “experienced workers”. Those working in sectors which require DBS clearance will be required to produce similar criminal (or non-criminal!) records from the countries where applicants have lived for the last 10 years.

In the Pipeline

May 2018 will see the introduction of much more stringent rules on consent governing data protection – and no employer is exempt. More on this to follow, but essentially, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requires beefed-up conditions for employee consent for the processing of personal data, which includes employee records. Consent will now have to be ‘freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous’, so vague blanket clauses in contracts of employment will no longer suffice.

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Charlotte Obolensky


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