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What’s in store during 2017

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There are some pretty significant employment law changes due this year, amid the ongoing uncertainty resulting from the Brexit referendum.


So here’s the heads up on the main things to be aware of - always good to know these things in advance so you can at least consider whether they affect you are not.


1. Gender pay gap reporting begins

Private-sector, voluntary sector and public-sector organisations with 250 employees or more will be required to publish gender pay gap information for the first time.

 

Employers will be obliged to release information relating to employee pay and bonus pay, as well as information on the number of men and women in each quartile of the organisation’s pay distribution.

 

The first report is expected to be 4 April 2018, based on pay and bonus data from 2016/17.


2. Apprenticeship levy on large employers introduced

Employers with an annual payroll of more than £3m will be required to pay a 0.5% levy on their total pay bill starting on 6 April.


Large employers will be able to access levied amounts, plus a government top-up of 10%, to fund apprenticeships from accredited training providers.


Smaller organisations that are not required to pay the levy will also be able to receive funding for accredited apprenticeships by contributing 10% towards the cost of an apprenticeship, with the Government paying the remaining cost.


3. Salary-sacrifice schemes significantly restricted

Employers may need to reconsider their benefit offerings as tax savings through many salary-sacrifice schemes will be abolished from 6 April.


Schemes related to pension savings (including pensions advice), childcare, cycle-to-work and ultra-low emission cars will not be affected.


Schemes in place prior to this April will be protected until April 2018, while arrangements related to cars, accommodation and school fees will be protected until April 2021.


4. Changes to rules for employing foreign workers

Employers sponsoring foreign workers with a tier 2 visa will be required to pay an immigration skills charge of £1,000 per worker (£364 for small employers and charities) beginning in April. The immigration skills charge will be in addition to current fees for visa applications.


In April, the minimum salary threshold for “experienced workers” applying for a tier 2 visa will also increase to £30,000. New entrants to the job market, and some health and education staff will be exempted from the salary threshold until 2019.


5. National minimum wage changes aligned

Cycle for changes to national minimum wage – including the national living wage – will be aligned, with the next round of changes taking effect on 1 April.


The next increase will see the national living wage for staff aged 25 or over rising to £7.50.


6. Trade union balloting changes to be implemented

Employers await the implementation date for new balloting requirements under the Trade Union Act 2016.


Under the rules, a successful vote for strike action will require a 50% minimum turnout and a majority vote in favour of industrial action.


Industrial action in important public services will require a strike vote of 40% of all eligible voters.


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