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What is new in 2017?

As the new legislative year begins, here are a few pointers to what employers and employees can expect to see in the New Year as regards employment laws and laws that may impact businesses and employers in general. Firstly, pay disparity, the Gender Pay Gap Reporting regulations  that we blogged about last year, although the regulations are still in draft form the deadline for the first report is expected to be 4 April 2018 based on pay and bonus data from 2016/17.

Apprenticeships Levy; employers with an annual payroll of more than £3 million will be required to pay a 0.5% levy on their total pay bill starting on 6 April 2017. The Apprenticeships Levy is a payment that will be collected from employers in both the public and the private sectors to HMRC via PAYE returns. The idea is to encourage employers to invest in apprenticeship programmes and to raise additional funds to improve the quality and quantity of apprenticeships. All businesses accessing the levy to fund apprenticeship training in their business, may qualify for a government top-up of 10%; while small businesses will also be able to receive funding for accredited apprenticeships by contributing 10% towards the cost of an apprenticeship.

From 6th April 2017, benefit offerings provided by employers as a tax saving method, will be abolished from 6 April 2017. Employees will then have to pay the same tax on what they put into these salary sacrifice schemes as they would on any other income, and employers will have to pay the same NI. Schemes related to pension savings and advice, childcare, cycle-to-work and ultra-low emission cars, will not be affected. Schemes already in place prior to April 2017 will be protected until April 2018, while arrangements related to cars; accommodation and school fees will be protected until April 2021.

The National Living Wage will rise by 4%, from £7.20 to £7.50 an hour as of 1st April, as will all other national minimum wage rates.

Although Trade Union Act 2016 set out new rules for balloting Trades Union members in that a successful vote for strike action will now require a 50% minimum turnout and a majority vote in favour of industrial action there have been no indications so far as to when this is likely to be implemented, but it’s considered highly likely this will happen sometime during 2017.

The government indicated last year it will attempt to reduce employers’ reliance on migrant workers by imposing a ‘visa levy’. This levy will be imposed on companies that sponsor workers from outside the European Economic Area and Switzerland. The charges are expected to come in force later this year.

Lastly legislation which is likely to have a significant impact on businesses, who will have to prepare in advance throughout 2017, is the new General Data Protection Regulation, that comes into force in May 2018. Under this regulation, employers will have to carry out audits of their employee’s personal data that they have collected over time and ensure that it meets General Data Protection Regulation conditions for employee consent. Employers may need to create or amend policies and processes on privacy notices, data breach responses and subject access requests. Companies that do not comply with the Regulation will risk fines up to £20 million or 4% of annual worldwide turnover, whichever is higher.

As always if you are likely to be affected by any of the new legislation, and need help or advice, give us a call.

This entry was posted in Employment and posted on March 7, 2017