Six employment law changes you need to know about

Every April, the government releases a raft of updates to various laws, and this year is no exception. There’s the familiar increase to the minimum wage, but also a new law related to the gender pay gap and a big change to data protection law. So let’s take a look at the changes that may affect you… 1. Minimum wages rise again Hot on the heels of the government releasing its name-and-shame list of companies who underpay their staff, minimum wages rose again on 1st April. National Living Wage—the rate that applies to workers aged 25 and over—rose by 4.4% up to £7.83 per hour. All rates of the National Minimum Wage (NMW) also increased:

  • Workers aged 21 – 24: from £7.05 to £7.38 per hour
  • Workers aged 18 – 20: from £5.60 to £5.90 per hour
  • Workers over compulsory school age but not yet 18: from £4.05 to £4.20 per hour
  • Apprentice rate: from £3.50 to £3.70 per hour

2. Auto-enrolment contributions go up too You’ll now have to contribute at least 2% to your employees’ pension scheme (up from 1%), while employees themselves must contribute a minimum of 3% (also up from 1%). These changes come into effect from 6th April. Just as with the minimum wage, failure to follow the law could mean a hefty fine and the embarrassment of being on a public name-and-shame list. 3. Time’s up for gender pay gap reports If you employ more than 250 people, the law now requires you to publish data on the difference between the amount you pay male and female employees. You must submit your figures to the Government Equalities Office by 4th April 2018. The next ‘snapshot date’ for private companies to collect pay data is 5th April 2018. You’ll then need to put together a report based on this data and publish it by 4th April 2019. As this quote from the chief executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission shows, you shouldn’t be taking this issue lightly: “Let me be very, very clear: failing to report is breaking the law…We have the powers to enforce against companies who are in breach of these regulations. We take this enormously seriously. We have been very clear that we will be coming after 100% of companies that do not comply.” Specifically, companies could face a summary conviction, an unlimited fine and be forced to publish the data under a court order. 4. Changes to the taxation of termination payments From 6th April 2018, HMRC will treat all payment in lieu of notice (PILON) that you make to your employees as earnings, and subject to tax and NI deductions. This is regardless of whether PILON is a clause in your employees’ contracts or you decide to offer it on a case-by-case basis. 5. Losing a tribunal case gets more expensive It’s not been a good 12 months for employers who face a tribunal case. Last July, the Supreme Court banned tribunal fees, removing a barrier for employees who were thinking of making a claim but couldn’t afford it. In fact, there was a 90% increase in tribunal claims in the period October-December 2017 compared to the previous year. And now the maximum award for an unfair dismissal is increasing again. From 6th April, the maximum award for unfair dismissal will reach £98,922—that’s no joke for a small business. 6. GDPR – a massive change to data protection law GDPR is a new data protection law that’s coming into force on 25th May across the whole of the EU. That includes the UK—Brexit or not. It changes everything about how you store and use the data of your customers, your staff and even job applicants. We can’t stress enough how important it is that you review your policies to make sure you have a legitimate reason for collecting and processing data.

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