A New Year brings with it fresh perspective, and in the HR world, a chance to prepare for what we know is coming, although in some cases we don’€™t quite know when. With 2017, this means Brexit, or should we say €œBrexit, means Brexit€ and at least as the dust settles we are getting some idea of what that actually means.

Of course there are some substantial obstacles to navigate yet, but the free movement of labour in the EU is a hot topic that is prompting our head of employment law Yunus Lunat and UK employers to ask a series of questions about future recruitment and current employees. Meanwhile, there are a number of other employment law changes imminent in 2017, including some significant legislative changes to data protection and gender pay gap reporting.

Here we present a summary of the employment law changes expected in 2017:

1. Apprenticeship levy €“ collected via PAYE from UK employers with an annual payroll of over £3million, this levy is part of the Government€™s initiative to fund three million new apprenticeships before 2020, and comes into practice in April. Qualifying employers will pay a 0.5% levy and those employers wishing to fund apprenticeships will be able to access levied amounts as well as a 10% top-up from the Government.

2. Gender Pay Gap Reporting  also coming into force in April is this scheme for organisations with over 250 employees. For the first time employers must publish gender pay gap figures on both their own website and a designated Government website.

3. National minimum wage and National Living Wage changes
€“ the National Living Wage for workers aged 25 or over will increase to £7.50 per hour from April 2017. The National Minimum Wage for 21-24 year-olds will increase to £7.05 per hour. For 18-20 year-olds the increase is to £5.60 per hour and for 16-17 year-olds an increase to £4.05 per hour. From April 2017, changes to each of these rates will be aligned to take place on 1 April each year.

4. New rules for employing foreign workers an immigration skills charge is being introduced for employers sponsoring foreign workers on a tier 2 visa. This is in addition to current fees and will be £1,000 per worker (£364 for charities). The minimum salary threshold for €˜experienced workers€™ applying for a tier 2 visa will also increase to £30,000.

5. Trade Union Act 2016 being implemented although the implementation date for this has yet to be decided, new balloting requirements mean a successful vote for strike action will require a 50% minimum turnout and also a majority vote in favour of the strike action. Industrial action in important public services will require 40% of eligible voters to take part.

6. Data Protection €“ from May 2017 employers will need to carry out audits of employee personal data as part of the new EU General Data Protection Regulations.  Policies on privacy notices, subject access requests and data breach responses will also have to be revised and updated. These changes are likely to remain unaffected by Brexit as the UK€™s data protection standards will need to remain on a par with the EU.

7. Public sector exit payments€“ whether through a redundancy or a voluntary exit, public sector workers leaving their roles will be subjected to exit payment capped at £95,000. This was delayed from 2016 but still expected to go through, as is the requirement to repay an exit payment if an employee returns to a public sector role within 12 months, and earns over £80,000.

8. Changes to taxation of salary sacrifice benefits €salary sacrifice schemes in place before April 2017 will remain until April 2018, but many others will be abolished. Schemes relating to school fees, cars and accommodation will remain in place until April 2021, and others relating to pensions, cycle-to-work, childcare and ultra- low-emission cars won’€™t be affected.

9. Tax-free childcare scheme expected early in 2017, this scheme offers eligible families tax-free childcare to cover 20% of childcare costs for children up to the age of 12. This is capped at £2,000 per child, per year and replaces all existing childcare schemes an employer may have in place.

Looking at the raft of new legislation about to make a sizeable impact on the UK employment law sector, Yunus Lunat commented:

Changes in employment legislation continue to provide challenges to small and large businesses. It is important that businesses are geared up to the changes and as ever the team at Ison Harrison are approachable for friendly and efficient advice to allow owners and managers to prioritise the running of their operations.€

Do you need employment law advice? Contact us today to speak to an employment expert.

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