Key employment law issues for SME employers in 2017 – what business owners should be looking out for in the coming year
2016 was a big year for Employment Law and 2017 looks like it is going to be just the same. From Brexit to the apprenticeship levy, Employment and Employment Law continues to be a highly politicised issue with significant legal changes being brought in consistently throughout the last decade. This year appears to be no different and it is critical for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to start planning in order to be prepared for these developments.
Amidst the ongoing uncertainty resulting from the Brexit referendum, significant employment law changes are anticipated over the next 12 months. Strathrgy Consultants want to ensure that our clients are well informed and able to embrace these with a clear and robust action plan.
Here, we have outlined what you need to know about Employment Law and the key issues likely to affect the SME sector in 2017:-
Brexit – Article 50 (end of March 2017)
As we are all very aware, Brexit has had its vast share of media coverage since the decision was taken last June. Article 50 is set to be triggered by the end of March 2017 which will start the two year negotiating period, although it could happen before or after this date. Although no legal changes will take place, and Britain won’t leave the EU this year, the effect Brexit will have on employment law changes remains unclear.
For further information visit http://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/CBP-7732
Business Rates Revaluation (1st April 2017)
From 1 April, businesses in England, Wales and Scotland will experience a business rates revaluation to align with rising property prices. The government has received much criticism after abolishing the previous 12.5% cap on the maximum amount bills could increase by, meaning some businesses could now be facing a 42% rise in bills per year.
See https://www.gov.uk/introduction-to-business-rates/revaluation for further details.
The National Living Wage (1-6th April 2017)
The government will continue to focus on making sure employers are correctly paying the National Minimum Wage (NMW) and National Living Wage (NLW) in 2017. Both the NMW and the NLW will see increases from 1st April 2017. The NLW, the minimum wage for workers over 25, will increase from £7.20 to £7.50 per hour, and the NMW will see a total increase of 60 pence in rates of pay across all age groups, including apprentices.
On 2nd April 2017, maternity, paternity, shared and adoption pay will increase by £1.40 per week to £140.98.
On 6th April 2017, statutory sick pay will rise from £88.45 to £89.35 per week.
The government’s aim is that the new Living Wage will rise to £9 by 2020. The Federation of Small Business has warned the Living Wage could potentially be harmful for small businesses, so you may need to start thinking about how you can get the most return for your payroll bill.
Gender pay gap regulations (6th April 2017)
The law requiring employers to publish a gender pay gap report will take effect from 6th April 2017. Small businesses need not worry about this law change though, as it only affects those with 250 employees or more. However, it is important to be aware as this could have a significant impact for the future.
https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/mandatory-gender-pay-gap-reporting can provide all the information you may require.
Apprenticeship levy (6th April 2017)
Another legal change to be introduced on 6th April 2017 is the commencement of the apprenticeship levy. Businesses with a payroll of more than £3m will have to pay an apprenticeship levy of 0.5% of their total wage bill. This should open up more funding opportunities for small businesses.
Those employers in England that wish to provide training for their apprentices from May 2017 will have to contribute 10% of the costs, unless the company has less than 50 employees, in which case the government will contribute 100% of training costs for apprentices aged 16-18, and in special circumstances, for those aged 19-24.
30 Hours of Free Childcare (rollout 2017)
From an employment perspective, this may not affect your staff directly, but it’s worth looking at as employers may have to make adjustments to hours should employees want to work the required 16 hours to be eligible.
Small Business Commissioner Scheme (Autumn 2017)
The Small Business Commissioner Scheme is expected to be introduced in Q4 2017. Designed to assist small businesses with complaints, the scheme will support small businesses in resolving payment disputes with larger businesses, as well as offer general advice and information on dispute resolution and basic contract principals.
Pension Auto-Enrolment (2017-2018)
Pension auto-enrolment encompasses a number of deadline dates as it is dependent on individual companies. From September – December 2016, almost one quarter of small businesses applied for new Pensions after the deadline had passed, and 19% waited until the month before the deadline. Any businesses that fail to have their pensions set up before the staging date will face a fine, so it’s important to plan ahead.
We are more than aware that not all legislation comes to fruition or adheres to the proposed timelines. New issues can also arise – Brexit – being a prime example. It is vitally important to be prepared for these legal changes, however we advise all our clients to be flexible and always expect the unexpected.
Strathrgy Consultants appreciate that managing Employment Law seems very overwhelming. We are here to help you with all your needs, questions and concerns. We are experts in managing Employment Law.
Please don’t hesitate to get in touch and we will be happy to assist.