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Employment Law Changes in April 2017

Key Changes Employers Need to Be Ready For

For employment law and HR practitioners sping and autumn are particularly busy periods because this is typically when a host of employment law changes are introduced each year, and this spring is no exception.  

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We outline below the key changes to employment law that employers need to be ready for this April.

New National Minimum Wage Rates

The new National Minimum Wage (NMW) rates from 1 April 2017 will be:

  • £7.50 per hour - 25 yrs old and over
  • £7.05 per hour - 21-24 yrs old
  • £5.60 per hour - 18-20 yrs old
  • £4.05 per hour - 16-17 yrs old
  • £3.50 for apprentices under 19 or 19 or over who are in the first year of apprenticeship

New Scottish Agriculture Wage Rates

In addition to the new NMW rates, the Scottish Agricultural Wages Board has agreed the following changes in agricultural wage rates which also come into effect as from 1st April 2017:

  • A single minimum hourly rate of £7.50 for all agricultural workers, irrespective of age and duties, that is equal to the UK Government’s National Living Wage
  • The overtime rate for workers during the first 26 weeks of employment will start after 48 hours in the week is worked and at the rate of 1.5 times the agreed hourly rate above
  • The overtime rate for all workers after 26 weeks continuous employment will start after 39 hours is worked at the rate of 1.5 times the agreed hourly rate above
  • An hourly rate of £4.40 (an increase of 38p per hour) for workers who undertake a Level 2 Modern Apprenticeship in Agriculture
  • An additional sum of £1.14 per hour for workers who have an appropriate qualification (an increase of 4p an hour)
  • An additional allowance of £5.60 per working dog (an increase of 11p per dog) up to a maximum of 4 dogs
  • An increase in the daily rate of the accommodation offset for accommodation other than a house to £6.00 (an increase of 65p per day)

New Statutory Rates

From 6 April the statutory rates change as follows:

  • Statutory sick pay will be £89.35 per week from 6 April, up from £88.45;
  • Maternity, adoption, paternity and shared parental pay will increase from £139.58 to £140.98 per week;
  • On 6 April the limit on a week’s pay for calculating statutory redundancy pay and unfair dismissal basic awards will increase from £479 to £489;
  • The maximum compensatory award will be the lower of £80,541 or 52 weeks’ gross pay in respect of dismissals with an effective date of termination of 6 April or later (up from £78,962)
See the full breakdown here: Statutory Rates and Compensation Limits 2017/18

Gender Pay Gap Reporting

The Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2017 (SI 2017/172) will come into force on 6 April 2017. The first gender pay gap reports for large private and voluntary sector employers will be due by 4 April 2018. Separate requiremenswill be introduced for public sector employers.

Apprenticeship Levy

The apprenticeship levy, which requires all UK employers in both the private and public sectors which have annual wage bills of more than £3 million to pay 0.5% of their annual wage bill towards the cost of apprenticeship training comes into force on 6 April 2017. This replaces the current system, enabling employers to choose and pay for the apprenticeship training they want.  

On 9 March 2017, HM Treasury made commencement regulations which bring into force the penalty provisions for errors in apprenticeship levy returns. Error penalties will also come into force on 6 April 2017.

Immigration Skills Charge

From 7 April 2017 an immigration skills charge of £1000 for each sponsored employee per year is payable by sponsors of Tier 2 migrants. It is reduced to £364 a year for smaller employers and charities.

How Can You Avoid Getting Caught Out?

If you are unsure about how these changes to employment law might affect your business, or simply want to check your company's compliance generally, Contact Us and we will undertake full review of your current arrangements and provide you with our findings and recommendations.

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