What does 2017 hold in store for employers and HR professionals?
We look at five key laws that will come into effect.
1 Changes to the National Living and Minimum Wage
As of April 2017, the National Living Wage (the rate for those aged 25 and over) will increase by 30p from £7.20 to £7.50 per hour. The National Minimum Wage (for those under the age of 25) will also increase as follows:
- for 21 to 24 year olds –£7.05 (currently £6.95)
- for 18 to 20 year olds – £5.60 (currently £5.55)
- for 16 to 17 year olds –£4.05 (currently £4.00)
- for apprentices – from £3.50 (currently £3.40)
The government is also changing the minimum wage calendar. Currently, the National Living Wage is amended in April and the National Minimum Wage is changed in October. As of 2017, the rates for all workers will be decided in April.
Additionally, the autumn statement revealed that £4.3 million will be spent on assisting small businesses understand minimum wage rules and cracking down on those employers who break the law by not paying their workers the national minimum wage rates.
2 Apprenticeship levy introduced
The apprenticeship levy, payable by employers with annual pay bills of more than £3 million, is due to come into force in April 2017. The government is also introducing a levy allowance of £15,000 per year. In brief, the total sum an employer is required to spend is 0.5% of your pay bill, minus the £15,000 allowance.
The levy is being implemented in April, but payments will commence in May 2017. Eligible employers will need to report and pay the levy to HMRC through PAYE.
Those employers who pay the levy can access a new digital apprenticeship service that enables them to spend available funds on apprenticeship training.
Contact your Employment Law Adviser for more information.
3 Crackdown on salary sacrifice schemes
The Chancellor, Philip Hammond, announced a clamp down on salary sacrifice schemes. As of April 2017, the majority of salary sacrifice schemes will be subject to the same tax as cash income. There are some exceptions, such as childcare, cycling to work schemes, ultra-low emission cars and pensions.
4 Gender pay reporting
The government has just published its final gender pay gap reporting regulations. Subject to parliamentary approval, it is expected that the regulations will come into effect in April 2017.
Private sector and voluntary sector employers with over 250 or more employees will need to publish gender pay and bonus information. The first gender pay is due by the 4th April 2018. See our detailed article on gender pay reporting.
5 General Data Protection Regulation
The EU General Data Protection Regulations were passed in May 2016.
The UK government has been clear that, despite Brexit, they will implement the regulations. Although EU Member States have up to the 25th May 2018 to implement the new rules in their national laws, you need to think about how to plan for the changes now.
The Regulations contains provisions that promote more accountability, transparency and governance. Some of the measures are as follows:
- In cases of data breaches, for example an accidental loss of data, businesses must notify the relevant data protection authority without undue delay and where possible no later than 72 hours. Data subjects must also be informed without undue delay about breaches that could pose a high risk to their rights and freedoms.
- A subject may request for their data to be deleted if there are no legitimate grounds for retaining the data. This is known as the right to be forgotten or right to erasure.
- When a subject’s consent is required, they must be asked to give it by means of a clear affirmative action, such as a written statement. Silence or inactivity is not a sign of consent.
- Organisations must appoint a ‘data protection officer’ if they process sensitive personal data on a big scale, or regularly and systematically monitor data subjects on a large scale.
- It imposes higher maximum penalties for failure to comply, including fines of up to €20 million or 4% of annual global turnover (whichever is higher).
Seek advice from your Employment Law Adviser who can help you understand how to prepare for these laws.