The start of the new financial year sees implementation of new government policy which may affect you as an employer. Here is a round up of the latest changes.

National Living Wage
The National Living Wage will increase to £7.50 per hour for employees aged 25 years. Cycles for national minimum wage increases will also be aligned – the next round of changes taking effect on 1 April 2017.

Apprenticeship levy (large employers) introduced
Employers with an annual payroll of more than £3 million will be required to pay a 0.5% levy on their total pay bill starting on 6 April 2017. 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.

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 2017. The immigration skills charge will be in addition to current fees for visa applications.

In April 2017, 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.

Holiday pay
In the (now) famous and long running Lock v British Gas Trading Ltd case the Supreme Court has refused to give British Gas leave to appeal. This means that the Court of Appeal’s decision will stand and results-based commission and non-guaranteed overtime (i.e. overtime which workers are contractually obliged to perform) must be included in the calculation of holiday pay for the first four weeks of holiday under the Working Time Regulations.

It will now be worth reviewing your holiday pay calculations again to ensure that all necessary payments are included.

Gender pay gap reporting
From 6 April, all private sector employers with 250 or more employees on the ‘snapshot’ date – 5 April each year – will be required to publish gender pay information The first report must be published on or before 4 April 2018 and then annually thereafter.

Statutory pay and compensation limits for 2017
• Weekly payments for various family leave increase to £140.98 (from £139.58) effective 2 April 2017
• Statutory sick pay increases to £89.35 (from £88.45) effective 6 April 2017.
• Redundancy pay (after 6 April 2017): the maximum amount for a week’s pay (used to calculate statutory redundancy payments) will increase to £489 per week (from £479 per week).
• The maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal will rise to £80,541 (from £78,962) where the effective date of termination is on or after 6 April 2017.
• Maternity allowance increases to £140.98 (from £139.58, effective 10 April 2017.

Trade union balloting changes to be implemented
We still 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

For more information, or to discuss how these changes may affect your business please do get in touch.