2016 was an eventful year and most people are now looking forward to a (hopefully) better 2017. So, a few days into the year, what can employers look forward to over the next 12 months?
After dominating the headlines in 2016, 2017 is also likely to be a year where Brexit is in the news. Assuming that the government does what it has promised, then article 50 will be triggered in March 2017. What Brexit will actually mean for employers and employees remains to be seen, but hopefully things will get clearer. Updates to come, watch this space…….
- Changes to work permits and the Immigration Act
This is hardly surprising given the current Brexit situation. Some of the changes have already been announced and there will be doubtlessly more to come.
What we do know already is that 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) from 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 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.
- Gender pay gap reporting
Or the Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2017 to give them their full name, which will come in to force on 6 April 2017. The government published updated guidance on these regulations a couple of days ago and has confirmed that all organisations with over 250 employees need to provide and report on gender pay gap information based on the date of 5 April 2017. If you haven’t started planning for this, make it top of your new year “to do” list.
- Apprenticeship levy
There has been much talk about the forthcoming apprenticeship levy and the potential opportunities it brings. If you are an organisation with a payroll of more than £3m then from 6 April 2017 the levy will apply to you. The Government has recently published updated guidance for employers on how the apprenticeship levy and the new funding system will work.
- Salary sacrifice schemes – RIP
As stated in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, there will be significant changes to what type of salary sacrifice schemes employers will be able to offer. Some of the current items offered, such as gym membership, will be abolished from 6 April 2017. If you haven’t already reviewed your employee benefits scheme, then now is the time.
- Rises in the national living wage and national minimum wage
This was another announcement in the Autumn Statement. Rather than having different dates when there are changes in the hourly rates for the national living wage and the national minimum wage, these have now been aligned. So the next changes will be due on 1 April 2017 and the rates are set to rise.
- Trade Union Act 2016
We are waiting to hear exactly when this legislation will come in to force but it will happen at some stage during 2017.
Under the rules, a successful vote for strike action will require a 50% minimum turnout and a majority vote in favour of industrial action. Strike action in “important public services” will require a strike vote of 40% of all eligible voters.
There has been a lot in the news about pensions in 2016 – whether it be related to the demise of BHS or the rise in the “gig” economy. There are already some known changes planned for 2017, such as the final phase of pension auto-enrolment to encompass all employers and the rise in the minimum employer contribution rate. It is likely there well may be others….
We’re sure that there will be other developments during the year ahead, so keep your eye on this blog for more updates. Happy New Year!