Guide to the latest employment law updates and changes in the UK for 2017

Whatever form Brexit takes, 2017 will be a key year for employment law regulations. Here’s a round-up of the latest in employment law news and when our employment law changes will be coming in.

This won’t be an exhaustive list for the year, as we predict further employment law legislation in the months following the snap general election and progress of Brexit. But the list and table below should point you towards the UK employment laws and changes you need to comply with and what to watch out for.

These articles might also be handy to have on file:

Employment law changes 2017: deadline dates

You’ll notice that all of these deadlines have already passed. Not up to speed? Run through this article and close your employment law gaps.

Employment law updates 2017 Date
Trade Union Act March 2017
Gender pay gap April 2017
Apprenticeship Levy April 2017
Apprenticeship advertising April 2017
The new National Minimum Wage April 2017
The new National Living Wage April 2017
Immigration skills charge regulations April 2017
Tax-free childcare scheme April 2017

Trade Union Act (March 2017)

The latest Trade Union Act measures came into force on 1 March 2017. Designed to protect workers from the ‘effects of undemocratic strike action’, the new legislation puts tougher requirements on trade unions, aiming to make industrial action less likely.

Features include an additional requirement in the public sector for at least 40% of entitled ballot voters to vote in favour of industrial action, as well as a requirement for more information on the ballot paper itself. The measures also double the current notice period to be given, meaning that employers will now have 14 days to prepare for industrial action.

Finally, there will be a new ballot threshold. In order for any ballot to be valid, at least 50% of those eligible must vote. Until this point, there have been no minimum turnout requirements.

Gender pay gap (April 2017)

From 5 April 2017, businesses and charities with 250 or more employees will be required by law to publish and report on their gender pay gap (measures for the public sector kicked in in March). Specific figures will range from the gap in hourly pay and bonus to the proportion of men and women in each pay quartile (or ‘range’).

Employers will need to publish their gender pay gap data, plus a written statement, on their website, and report online using Gov.uk’s gender pay gap reporting tool.

Most businesses we insure have fewer than 250 employees, but you can of course report voluntarily if you want to. And just to confirm, Simply Business is headlining as an official supporter of gender pay gap reform and progress. Read all about our Women in Finance commitments.

Apprenticeship levy (April 2017)

Businesses with an annual ‘pay bill’ over £3 million must pay the apprenticeship levy from 6 April 2017. A pay bill is the total wages paid to an employee (or group of employees) within a specific time period.

If this one affects you, you’ll need to report and pay the levy to HMRC through the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) process.

Remember, the levy won’t affect how you fund training for apprentices who started a programme before 1 May 2017. You’ll carry on funding these under the terms in place when the apprenticeship started.

Apprenticeship advertising (April 2017)

From 1 April 2017, it will be against the law to falsely advertise work as a statutory apprenticeship. The law also makes it illegal to wrongly describe someone as an apprentice within your business. The maximum penalty you’ll receive will be a fine, so double-check any apprenticeship contracts and terms you have and ensure you’re already compliant.

Non-statutory apprenticeships are currently discounted from the ruling.

The new National Minimum Wage (NMW) (April 2017)

The NMW changes every April and currently depends on two things: the employee’s age, and whether they’re an apprentice.

The current hourly rates rates for the NMW are £3.50 for an apprentice, £4.05 for employees under 18, £5.60 for employees aged 18-20, and £7.05 for those aged 21-24.

Remember, employees must be at least school leaving age to receive this.

The new National Living Wage (NLW) (April 2017)

Employees must be aged 25 or over to get the NLW, and the new hourly rate is £7.50.

Immigration skills charge regulations (April 2017)

This update primarily affects businesses employing Tier 2 migrant workers in skilled jobs. The charge will be £1,000 a year for every employee, reduced to £364 for small or charitable organisations. According to solicitors McGill & Co, you’ll usually be considered to be a small business if your annual turnover is £10.2 million or less, and/or you have 50 employees or fewer.

The charge exempts PhD-level jobs and international students moving from student to working visas. It also leaves out those in the Intra Company Transfer Graduate Trainee category.

Tax-free childcare scheme (April 2017)

In terms of employment law, definition can be quite loose. So whilst this mainly affects parents rather than employers, we’ve kept it in as a key change for many self-employed parents.

The tax-free childcare scheme is a new government initiative, designed to help working parents (including the self-employed) manage the cost of childcare.

Briefly, for every £8 a parent pays in to their online account, the government will pay in an extra £2. Parents will be able to get up to £2,000 a year for each child under the age of 12, and £4,000 for disabled children aged under 17.

Sound helpful? You’ll need to be in work and expecting to earn £120 minimum a week, and each parent can’t be earning more than £100,000 a year. Read Gov.uk’s article for more information on who’s eligible and how to benefit.

Statutory payments update (April 2017)

Pay type Weekly rate
Maternity/paternity/adoption pay £140.98
Sick pay £89.35
Lower earnings limit £113
Redundancy pay £489 maximum (based on weekly pay)

Future changes to watch out for in employment law, UK

Possible change Date (estimated)
Grandparental leave 2018
Auto-enrolment provisions 2018
Changes to the General Data Protection Regulations 2018
Holiday pay/overtime calculations TBC
Self-employed contractors and gig economy rights TBC

Are you already seeing the effects of these UK employment law updates? Let us know in the comments.

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