April 12, 2018

April 2018 Employment Law Changes

April may be a quieter month than it used to be, now that the Chancellor no longer delivers a spring budget, but HR still has to contend with changes in employment law. And there are quite a few changes this spring, with the most prominent one being the first gender pay gap reporting deadline.

That’s why we have set out for you any changes in employment law that HR professionals need to know about and act upon, starting with the big one that many HR professionals have been preparing for in recent months: reporting on the gender pay gap.

Gender pay gap
All employers with 250 or more employees now have to report on their gender pay gap. The first deadline was for public sector employers – March 30 2018. The deadline for private sector and voluntary sector employers has just passed – April 4 2018.

Under the new regulations, called the Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties and Public Authorities) Regulations 2017 for the public sector and the Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2017 for the private sector, employers must make public their gender pay gap. It has to appear on their website in an accessible format and remain there for three years. Employers also need to upload their gender pay gap information to the gender pay area of the Government’s website.

HR professionals may want to note the fact that some organisations have published commentaries to accompany their gender pay gap reporting, particularly those organisations that have a big disparity of gender pay.

Compliance with GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is something else that has consumed a lot of HR time and attention recently, not least because there has been a lot of confusion and misinformation about what the new regulations mean.

As of May 25 2018, organisations will need to be GDPR compliant. What does this mean? The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) sets it all out on its website, but measures include an expansion of individual data protection rates (including the rights for individuals to be forgotten) and tighter rules on individual consent to the processing of sensitive data. Any organisations that breach GDPR could be vulnerable to large fines – up 20 million euros or 4% of global turnover.

Termination payments
On April 6 2018 the Government changed the rules on taxation of termination payments. Under the new rules, all payments in lieu of notice are taxable. Prior to April 6, some payments in lieu of notice could be treated as non-taxable, depending on an employee’s contract of employment.

The Government was also due to introduce new legislation regarding national insurance contributions on termination payments in excess of £30,000 this spring, but that legislation has been delayed until April 6 2019.

National minimum wage
There has been an increase in national minimum wages across the board, taking effect from April 1 2018. Increases in the national minimum wage are as follows: £7.38 an hour for workers aged 21 to 24, £5.90 an hour for workers aged 18 to 20, £4.20 an hour for workers under 18 and not of compulsory school age and £3.70 an hour for apprentices.

The national living wage for workers aged 25 and over has increased to £7.83 an hour.

Statutory family-related pay and statutory sick pay
There have been increases in the weekly rate of statutory maternity, paternity, adoption and shared parental pay. Rates went up to £145.18 for pay weeks commencing on or after April 1 2018.

Statutory sick pay rates also increased on April 6 2016, going up to £92.05 a week.

Statutory redundancy pay
New limits came into force on April 6 2018 regarding employment statutory redundancy pay. When an employer makes an employee with two years or more of service redundant, the employer must pay a certain amount based on three things: the employee’s weekly pay, their length of service and their age. Weekly page is subject to a maximum amount of £508.

What else has changed? The government has abandoned the ‘Fit for work’ assessment scheme. The ‘Fit for work’ helpline, website and web chat service is still available, but the assessment service closed in England and Wales on March 31 2018 and will close in Scotland on May 31 2018.

And what’s coming up next? The government is expected to introduce more legislative changes later on in the year and next year, including the abolition of workplace childcare vouchers in October 2018. Also under review is CEO/worker pay gap reporting, the parental bereavement bill, grandparental leave and IR35 in the private sector.