What you need to know about employment law changes
Running your own business? This list of the top six employment law changes in 2018 is a must-read.
The gender pay gap has been hitting the headlines, Brexit is on the horizon and new data protection rules are just weeks away from coming into force.
But as a business owner what do you need to know to make sure your company is up to scratch?
While it might not seem like the most interesting task on your to-do list, keeping up to date with the latest rules and regulations could save you from costly legal battles in the future.
“Employment law is constantly changing, and dealing with HR and employment law issues can be one of the most difficult factors in running your business or organisation,” said Sara Ellison from Banner Jones Solicitors.
“It’s therefore crucial to ensure that you get the right advice at the right time to ensure you keep on track.”
To help get you started, the expert team at Banner Jones Solicitors has put together this handy guide of some of the biggest changes on the horizon.
General Data Protection Regulations
Due to come into force on May 25, 2018, these new regulations will overhaul the Data Protection Act 1998.
It is hoped the changes will ‘protect and empower’ the data privacy of all EU citizens.
The new regulations place a greater emphasis on obtaining consent and having a lawful basis for processing data.
Essentially, they aim to move companies away from a ‘tick-box’ compliance exercise when it comes to the security and privacy of personal information.
What does it mean for me?
- You will need to obtain explicit consent from individuals regarding the processing of their data
- There will be an obligation to complete a data protection impact assessment and seek permission from the relevant regulator if the assessment reveals a high risk
- You must report breaches within 72 hours or face significant fines
Gender Pay Reporting
The Equality Act (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations have been in place for almost 12 months already.
By April, 2018, all employers with 250 staff or more must publicly publish and report to government the:
- Mean gender pay gap in hourly pay
- Median gender pay gap in hourly pay
- Mean bonus gender pay gap
- Median bonus gender pay gap
- Proportion of men and women receiving a bonus payment
- Proportion of men and women in each pay quartile
You also need to provide a written statement confirming that the calculations are accurate. This must be signed by an appropriate senior person in your organisation, such as a director or chief executive. Providing a narrative will help people to understand your view of why a gender pay gap is present and what your organisation intends to do to close it.While the regulations currently only affect employers with 250 staff or more, smaller businesses can voluntarily publish the information.
Large organisations including the BBC have faced criticism after reporting significant differences in the pay between men and women working for them.
Removal of childcare vouchers
Currently, some working parents receive childcare vouchers via their employers.
Businesses provide staff with childcare vouchers, paid for by a ‘salary sacrifice’ scheme. It means working parents do not have to pay income tax or National Insurance on vouchers, up to a maximum of £55 per week.
This system is being replaced with tax-free childcare.
The change was introduced last year and is due to be completely rolled out by Spring 2018.
Under the new scheme, eligible parents could save 20 per cent on the costs of childcare up to a maximum of £2,000 per year per child (or £4,000 for disabled children). There will be a maximum of £10,000 per annum that can be claimed. However, some employers who currently offer childcare vouchers are concerned about no longer being able to provide this benefit to new employees once the new scheme is fully in force. They will be able to continue to provide them for existing staff who are already in receipt of childcare vouchers.
What does it mean for me?
- Existing voucher schemes can continue to run but cannot take on new applicants
- Parents cannot benefit from both schemes
Increases in statutory payments
The National Minimum Wage is set to increase in April 2018. As an employer you need to make sure all staff are paid correctly.
The old and new minimum hourly wages are summarised below:
- Those aged 25 and over, increasing from £7.50 to £7.83
- Those aged 21 to 24, increasing from £7.05 to £7.38
- Those aged 18 to 20, increasing from £5.60 to £5.90
- Under 18s, increasing from £4.05 to £4.20
- Apprentices, increasing from £3.50 to £3.70
Shared parental leave
Back in 2016, the government announced plans to extend shared parental leave and pay to working grandparents by 2018.
The consultation has since been delayed but plans to simplify the requirements and notification system might still go ahead this year.
Currently, employers are obliged to follow decisions passed down by European Courts. Recent case law has given staff the right to carry forward holiday while off sick and seen overtime and bonuses included when calculating holiday pay.
Until negotiations on the nature of the relationship between the EU and UK after Brexit are complete, the extent to which European laws will continue to apply in the UK is unclear.
The good news is it is unlikely there will be any immediate changes or regulations being rescinded, giving employers time to prepare.
As the government sets out its Brexit strategy throughout this year, the extent to which we will act in line with European law is likely to become clearer.
Find out more
Banner Jones’ employment law specialists in Sheffield, Chesterfield and Mansfield have years of experience advising and guiding employers to ensure they get the best outcomes.
They can guide you through the entire life cycle of the employment relationship.
“We know keeping track of changing employment law isn’t always easy and running a business is hard work, so why not leave the ‘legal bit’ to us,” said Sara Ellison.
“Failing to comply with the various rules and regulations can lead to costly employment tribunal claims, so don’t leave it to chance.”