April 2017: Key changes and points for employers to consider
07 April 2017 #Other
April heralds the start of spring and often marks the start date for recently introduced legislation. Here is a whistle-stop tour of some of the most important changes in employment law this month will bring:
- Gender pay gap reporting rules will come into force
After much anticipation, April will bring the introduction of requirements for employers to provide an annual report regarding the gender pay gap. Employers with 250 or more employees will have to report data about their gender pay gap including bonuses. Employers in the private and voluntary sector must use pay data for staff employed on a ‘snapshot’ date of the 5th April. Employers will have 12 months to publish the information on their website and then upload it to the government website annually.
This January, the Government published the Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties and Public Authorities) Regulations 2017 which extended the duty to publish such reports to public sector employers also. For more information please see our previous Article ‘Gender Pay- the revised regulations and what to do now’.
- Apprentice levy and targets introduced
An apprenticeship levy to fund apprenticeship training will come into effect on the 6th April 2017. Employers with a total annual payroll bill in excess of £3m (which accounts for an estimated 98% of all businesses) will pay a levy of 0.5%. Employers will pay the monthly levy by PAYE and will receive a 10% “top-up” of funds for spending on apprenticeship training and will add this top-up on a monthly basis. Employers with fewer than 50 staff will not be required to pay anything towards the cost of apprenticeships offered to 16-18 year olds. For more information on this area please see our previous Articles ‘Government publishes guidance on apprenticeship funding’, and ‘Apprenticeship levy update’.
In addition to the levy, from 1st April 2017 public sector employers in England with at least 250 employees will be required to deliver against a target that 2.3% of their workforce must start an apprenticeship each year as the Government aims to deliver 3 million apprenticeships by 2020.
- Salary Sacrifice
As we reported in our Article ‘Autumn Statement’, from this month a removal of tax and NIC benefits will apply to certain benefits unless they are given on top of a salary. This means that employers will have to bear the cost of the benefit in order to avoid the income tax and employer’s NICs charges. Arrangements exempt from the removal of tax and NIC advantages include:
- Enhanced pension contributions to registered pension schemes (and pensions advice)
- Childcare benefits (childcare vouchers and employer-supported childcare such as the provision of workplace nurseries)
- Cycles and cyclists’ safety equipment provided under the cycle to work scheme.
- Ultra-low emission cars
Arrangements that are already in place will be protected until April 2018, with arrangements for cars, accommodation and school fees benefitting from protected status until April 2021.
- Immigration Skills Charge
From the 6th April, employers that are tier 2 sponsors of skilled workers will be required to pay a levy of £1,000 per certificate of sponsorship (or £364 for small employers and charities). For more detailed information on this topic please see our previous Article, ‘Tier 2 Immigration Skills Charge to be introduced on 6 April 2017’.
- National Minimum Wage Increase
From the 1st April, the rates of national minimum wage will increase. The national living wage rate for workers aged 25 or over will increase from £7.20 to £7.50. The rates contained within other age bands will also increase. The ACAS website provides a useful summary of the increase within these bands and may be accessed here.
- Increases to sick pay, family related pay and redundancy pay
For pay weeks commencing on or after the 2nd April 2017, the weekly rate of statutory maternity, paternity, adoption and shared parental leave will increase to £140.98. Statutory sick pay will also be on the increase from the 6th April to £89.35.
New limits on statutory redundancy pay will come into force on the 6th April. For eligible employees, the amount of ‘weekly pay’ for redundancy calculations will be subject to an increased weekly cap of £489 (the previous cap was £479).
- Requirement for annual whistleblowing reports
The draft Prescribed Persons (Reports on Disclosures of Information) Regulations 2017 have been published in draft form and are due to come into force on 1st April. The Regulations will require specified employers (to whom a worker can report whistleblowing in certain circumstances) to produce an annual report on whistleblowing disclosures. The report will need to contain information including the number of disclosures made (including the number of those where no further action had been taken). The report is to be published on either the employer’s website, or ‘by other means appropriate for bringing the report to the attention of the public.’ The reporting period will be a 12-month period from the 1st April each year.
For further information regarding any of these changes and how they may affect you please contact our employment team.
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