Spring does not just bring flowers in bloom and good weather but also a series of legislative changes from large compliance projects for data protection and gender pay gap reporting to costs increases as the apprenticeship levy and additional fees for sponsoring foreign workers are introduced.
- The Trade Union Act 2016
which reforms the rules on trade union ballots for taking industrial action came into force 1 March 2017
. The main amendments of the Act are:
- 50% turnout threshold for the ballot to be valid on industrial action.
- 40% support threshold from all members in order to take industrial action in key public services.
- Four month time limit for which the ballot will remain valid to authorise industrial action
- 2 weeks' notice of industrial action
- Union supervision of picketing
- The Financial Conduct Authority rules regarding regulatory references for senior managers and staff came into force on 7 March 2017
which means that, before recruiting certain positions which fall within the Senior Managers and Certification Regime (SMCR)
, it will be necessary to obtain satisfactory references covering the candidates prior 6 years employment history.
- The new National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage
came into force from 1 April 2017
- National Living Wage £7.50
- National Minimum Wage
- Workers aged 21-24 £7.05
- Workers aged 18-20 £5.60
- Workers aged 16-17 £4.05
- Apprentice rate £3.50
- The accommodation offset limit also increased to £ 6.00 per hour
- Other Statutory payments increased in April 2017:
- Maternity/Paternity/Adoption £140.98 from 2 April 2017
- Sick pay £89.35 from 6 April 2017
- The Employment Tribunal compensation limits increased from 6 April 2017
with the maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal rising to £ 80,541 and the maximum limit on a week's pay to £ 489. It is worth remembering that the Ministry of Justice launched a database of all employment tribunal judgements which is now on line; this means that these judgements are searchable by name of employee and/or employer, tribunal etc so it is easy track if someone ( or some company) has been involved in litigation/s and it does include claims that have been withdrawn by the Claimant following COT3 or Settlement Agreement.
- The Equality Act 2010 ( Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2017
came into force 6 April 2017
to address the gender pay gap introducing the requirement for private sector organisations with 250 employees or more to publish their gender pay gap. Employers will need to publish key wage information, and these details will need to include the difference in hourly earnings as well as the gap in bonus pay. The first reporting date will be 5 April 2018.
- The Apprenticeship Levy
came into effect 6 April 2017
affecting organisations both in the private and public sector with a payroll of more than £3 million per year. Employers will be liable to pay a 0.5% levy on their total wage bill for the purpose of raising money to meet the cost of apprenticeship schemes across the UK.
- The Immigration Skills Charge Regulations 2017
came into force from 6 April 2017
which means that employers who sponsor skilled workers under tier 2 of the points based system will have to pay £1,000 per certificate; they will also need to confirm that they have checked that all their current employees have the right to work in the UK, and that they can prove that those checks have taken place ( paper trail is essential to show due diligence).
And finally from 25 Mary 2018
EU General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR)
will come into force when the UK is likely to still be in the EU and so it will apply between May 2018 and any departure from the EU.
Employers will be required to carry out audits of employee personal data that they collect and process to ensure it meets the Regulations. The Information Commissioner's Office has published a very useful guide "Preparing for the General Data Protection Regulations - 12 steps to take"
to help businesses prepare.
I believe that large/r organisations are better equipped in dealing with the changes both in terms of access to expertise and in terms of administrative resources. My question is how are small businesses going to deal/dealing with this as most small businesses grow organically without internal systems in place for human resources and HR is given a very low priority compared to chasing the next sale/deal. There are of course various solutions to this from a DIY approach accessing available free resources to Outsourced HR to engaging an Interim Consultant to help.
One thing is sure ignorance of the law is not admissible and compliance is a Must.
Is your organisation already compliant to the relevant legislation/s or at least on its way to be ( complaint)?