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Employment Law Update

Legislation Tracker 2017 – what’s coming up in March and April 2017?




1 March 2017

Trade union reform

Changes to balloting rules for industrial action came into effect.

  • Strikes cannot be called unless 50% of those entitled to vote do so and a majority support strike action. In addition, if the proposed strike relates to “essential public services” (see definition below) at least 40% must vote in favour.
  • Unions must provide two weeks' notice of industrial action to employers.
  • New picketing rules which require the union to provide information to the police about picketing and ensure that an official supervises the picket.
  • Unions must provide more detailed information about the outcomes of ballots.

Essential public services are: health, fire, border security, education (of those aged under 17), transport, decommissioning nuclear installations and management of radioactive waste and spent fuel.

Note: Other changes under the Trade Unions Act 2016 are not yet in force. The government has consulted on whether to remove the prohibition against hiring agency staff to provide cover for striking workers. It is not yet known if or when this provision will come into force.

29 March 2017

Brexit - UK served Article 50 Notice

The UK will begin its negotiation with the EU to agree the terms of its exit and (hopefully) agree new terms. The process can last up to 2 years. This timeframe can only be extended with the agreement of all of the remaining 27 EU countries.

1 April 2017

Increases to National Minimum Wage rates and Living Wage

Increases to the National Minimum Wage (NMW) will now take place in April each year, not October.

The National Living Wage has increased to £7.50 from £7.20.

NMW will rise as follows:

  • Workers aged 21 to 24 - £7.05 from £6.95
  • Workers aged 18 to 20 - £5.60 from £5.55
  • Workers aged over compulsory school age under 18 - £4.05 from £4.00
  • Apprentices - £3.50 from £3.40

6 April 2017

Increases to the statutory rates for maternity, paternity, shared parental pay, adoption and sick pay

Statutory rates for everything other than sick pay will increase from £139.58 to £140.98 or 90% of average earnings if lower.

Statutory sick pay will increase from £88.45 to £89.35.

The lower earnings limit will increase from £112 to £113.

6 April 2017

Increases in statutory payments and tribunal awards

The maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissals taking effect from 6 April increases to £80,541.

A week’s pay (used to calculate statutory redundancy payments and the basic award in unfair dismissal claims) increases to £489 (gross).

6 April 2017

Changes to salary sacrifice schemes

Tax and National Insurance contributions (NIC) savings will be removed for all tangible benefits under a salary sacrifice arrangement with the exception of those relating to pensions (including advice), childcare, cycle to work and ultra-low emission cars (“ULEC”).

All arrangements in place before April 2017 will be protected for up to a year, and arrangements in place before April 2017 for cars, accommodation and school fees will be protected for up to four years.

6 April 2017

Gender Pay Reporting

Under new regulations, private and voluntary sector employers in England, Wales and Scotland with at least 250 employees will be required to publish gender pay gap figures. “Employees” is widely defined and will include agency and other workers.

The first period for assessment is 5 April 2017 but employers will have until 4 April 2018 to publish their first report. Thereafter employers will have to publish reports annually. The report must be published on a searchable UK website that is accessible to employees and the public.

Similar duties apply to public sectors employers but their first snapshot date is 30 March 2017 and the first reporting date is 31 March 2018.

6 April 2017

Apprenticeship Levy

Employers with a pay bill of more than £3 million each year must pay an apprenticeship levy charged at a rate of 0.5% of their annual pay bill. An allowance of £15,000 is available to offset the levy.

Pay bill is based on the total amount of earnings subject to Class 1 secondary NICs.

Businesses that already operate levy systems will not be exempt and will be required to pay the levy.

6 April 2017

Immigration skills charge

This charge was introduced under the Immigration Act 2016 and is payable by all employers who are registered sponsors for the points based system which is designed to discourage employers from recruiting from outside the EEA.

The skills charge will be per Certificate of Sponsorship per year and is set at £1,000 per worker. A reduced rate of £364 per Certificate of Sponsorship per year will apply to small or charitable sponsors.

April 2017

Pension Changes

Auto-Enrolment will be rolled out to smaller employers. For those already there the three-year, re-enrolment exercises are now underway.

Published: 6 March 2017 

Employment Law Update - April 2017

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