As you plan for the new year ahead, here is my overview of the key employment law changes that business owners need to be aware of in 2018. Between 30th March and 9th April, you need to be on your toes because there is a legislation update nearly every day of the week! Maybe decision makers could align diaries in future years to make life easier for employers!

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 first reporting deadlines are 30th March for public sector employers and 4th April for the private and voluntary sectors.

Fit for Work Assessment Scheme: In England and Wales, the service stopped accepting new referrals in December 2017, but will continue to deal with ongoing referrals until 31st March. In Scotland, the scheme will cease in May 2018. There will still be telephone and online support in all parts of the country. 

Pay Increases: The rates for national living wage and the minimum wage are increasing from 1st April

  Current rate Rate from April 2018
National Living Wage (over 25s) £7.50 £7.83
21-24 year olds £7.05 £7.38
18-20 year olds £5.60 £5.90
16-17 year olds £4.05 £4.20
Apprentices £3.50 £3.70

Increases to statutory benefits: Rates for statutory maternity, paternity, shared parental leave and adoptive leave pay will increase marginally from £140.98 to £145.18 plus statutory sick pay is to increase from £89.35 to £92.05 with a new lower earnings limit of £116 (previously £113). These increases usually start at the beginning of April, however the statement to parliament for this year suggested they will come into force on 9th April.  

Termination payments: The Government is planning to make changes to the treatment of PILON (pay in lieu of notice) payments, with contractual and non-contractual payments being treated the same for the employee's tax purposes from April 2018. Changes to taxation for employers is also planned, although looks likely to be deferred to April 2019. Further information is available from the HMRC website.

New penalty for hiring illegal workers: The Government is planning to introduce a new deterrent for employers hiring illegal workers from April 2018. Employers who have been caught hiring illegal workers will not be able to receive the Employment Allowance for a year. The Allowance gives employers a reduction of £3,000 off their national insurance bill each year. This is a further reminder to employers of the importance of conducting the proper checks on right to work in the UK for all of their staff. Do get in touch if you require advice on how to carry out these checks and what information to record on file. 

General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR): I would be surprised if anyone has not heard of the impending GDPR regulations, unless you have been living in a cave! However, you may not be entirely clear on what to do. Employers will be required to carry out audits of employee personal data that they collect and process to ensure it meets the Regulations, as well as considering other personal data such as client information. Change to subject access requests. A good place to start to get to grips with what you need to do is the ICO’s booklet "Preparing for the General Data Protection Regulations - 12 steps to take". The regulations will come into force on 25th May. I will be undertaking further training on GDPR in February and will be in touch with clients after this to share advice and support you in making sure you are prepared.  

Childcare Vouchers: Salary sacrifice schemes close to new entrants from 6th October (originally 6th April), but can still continue for existing scheme members. The new tax-free childcare scheme does not involve employers, as individuals apply themselves. The existing salary sacrifice schemes can be beneficial to employers as well as employees, as there are savings in employers NI payments. Therefore you may wish to promote your existing scheme internally before the closing date.

Grandparental Leave: Watch this space on this one! In March 2016, the government confirmed its plans to extend shared parental leave and pay to working grandparents by 2018. However, to date, no consultations have been issued on this subject.

Employment Status: With many "gig economy" cases taken against companies such as Uber and others in 2017, combined with the discussions around the Taylor review on modern employment practices, we can expect to see more cases in 2018 around employment status and workers rights, and longer term hopefully there will be clearer guidance on determining whether someone is self-employed, a worker or an employee. 

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 2018 and beyond.