A look at the changes in legislation which take effect on 1st April. Contributor Enrique Garcia, Employment Law Consultant – ELAS Group.
End of Fit For Work assessments – there is no longer a free occupational health service for employers so it is even more important to use absence management services such as Absence Assist and occupational health services to stay on top of absences as prevention is better (and often less expensive) than cure when it comes to managing absences.
National Minimum Wage / National Living Wage – These are two areas which will continue to increase in 2018, with the next raise coming on 1st April taking the National Living Wage up to £7.83 for those aged 25 and above.
The National Minimum Wage rates will be as follows from 1st April:
- 21-24 year olds – £7.38 per hour (up from £7.05)
- 18-20 year olds – £5.90 per hour (up from £5.60)
- 16-17 year olds – £4.20 per hour (up from £4.05)
- Apprentice rate – £3.70 per hour (up from £3.50) **applicable to apprentices aged 16-18 and those aged 19 and over who are in their first year. All other apprentices are entitled to the NMW for their age
Gender Pay Gap Reporting – The deadline for the first gender pay gap reports is fast approaching on 4th April for the payroll period including the snapshot date of 6 April 2017. Information on any bonuses paid also needs to be published at the same time for the 12 month period ending April 2017. All companies which employ 250 or more are required to publish this information.
There is no obligation for companies to explain the gender pay gap, nor any duty to address it if a company is complying with the Equality Act however, as we have seen with the BBC, there can be huge fallout and potential reputational damage where a large gap is shown with no explanation. Furthermore, the best candidates may not be attracted to working for companies with a big gender pay gap if they feel that their gender will adversely impact their career prospects.
All companies with more than 250 employees are obliged to publish:
- The difference between the mean hourly rate of pay for male full-pay relevant employees and that of female full-pay relevant employees
- The difference between the median hourly rate of pay for male full-pay relevant employees and that of female full-pay relevant employees
- The difference between the mean bonus pay paid to male relevant employees and that paid to female relevant employees
- The difference between the median bonus pay paid to male relevant employees and that paid to female relevant employees
- The proportions of male and female relevant employees who were paid bonus pay
- The proportions of male and female full-pay relevant employees in the lower, lower middle, upper middle and upper quartile pay bands
Statutory payments increase – There will be a rise in statutory payments, including statutory sick pay (SSP), maternity (SMP), paternity (SPP), adoption (SAP) and shared parental pay (ShPP). These increases usually take effect from 1st April but, this year, will be in place from 9th April. The new rates will be: SSP – £92.05 per week (up from £89.35); SMP, SPP, SAP, ShPP – £145.18 per week (up from £140.98)
We will also see the redundancy cap increase to £508.00 per week and the unfair dismissal cap go up to £98,922.00 (£15,240 basic, £83,682.00 compensatory). And finally….this is the LAST MONTH for employers to prepare for GDPR!
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will take effect from 25 May 2018. It was introduced by the EU in order to strengthen data protection for all individuals within the EU, as well as addressing the export of personal data outside the EU. GDPR will be applicable in the UK despite Brexit. The main change companies should be aware of when the GDPR takes effect is that the liability that will come from breaching the regulations is huge; you can be fined up to 4% of your global turnover or €20 million, whichever is higher.
People have more control over their personal data, including the right to be forgotten and it’s important that companies take all steps to protect personal data. Access to data will be quicker and will also be free, instead of the current £10.00 charge. However, a company can make a reasonable charge if the request is manifestly unfounded or excessive e.g. repetitive requests with a view to causing disruption. It’s essential that all staff who handle personal information understand the fundamental principles and requirements of GDPR, specialist training courses can help ensure you stay compliant.