Employers: what you need to know in 2017

17th January 2017

Employers: what you need to know in 2017

We may only be a little over a fortnight into the new year but 2017 is already shaping up to be a busy year for employers.

Employment law is constantly evolving in response to the rapid changes in the way we work and the relationship between employer and employee.

There are four key areas businesses and organisations will need to be up to speed with in the coming months to ensure they don’t fall foul of the law.

Gender pay gap reporting:

The Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations are set to come into force on 6 April, meaning all private sector organisations with at least 250 employees must publish details of their gender pay gap, for both basic pay and any bonus payments.

The first reporting will be due no later than 4 April 2018, and annually after that. This could be a raw topic for supermarket employer Asda who face an equal pay claim brought by retail workers, mainly female, who argue their work is of equal value to the predominantly male warehouse workers.  The preliminary judgement agreed that a comparison could be made between retail and depot work, and now the Employment Tribunal will look to see if there are jobs of equal value and, if so, any pay differences.  Asda has been granted leave to appeal the preliminary judgement.

Apprentice levy:

Also due on 6 April is the annual apprenticeship levy, introduced under the Finance Act 2016 (part 6). The levy must be paid by all private and public sector employers in the UK with a pay bill of £3m and above.

It will be charged at the rate of 0.5% on their total pay bill, with an annual allowance of £15,000 to offset against the levy payment. The income will be used to fund a new system of post-16 apprenticeships, which will be available also to those employers falling below the £3m threshold.

Salary sacrifice schemes:

As announced in the Autumn Statement, the Finance Bill 2017 will set out changes to the tax status of salary sacrifice benefits with effect from April 2017. The changes will see an end to the tax saving benefits of most salary sacrifice schemes, which will become subject to the same taxation as cash income.

Any arrangements in place before 6 April 2017 will be protected for one year, or four years in the case of cars, accommodation or school fees. The extension will apply until the arrangement ends, is renewed or otherwise modified. Remaining exempt from tax will be pensions, cycle-to-work and ultra-low emission cars.

Tax-free childcare:

Also retaining its taxation benefits will be existing employer-supported childcare voucher schemes. These can remain open to new entrants until April 2018 with childcare vouchers and all associated tax savings available for the life of the scheme.

However, the Government is expected to launch a new, alternative tax-free childcare scheme, which will allow working families satisfying a minimum/maximum income requirement to claim 20% of childcare costs for children under 12, or under 17 where children have a disability, capped at £2,000 per year.

The two schemes can run in tandem, but once a new scheme has been established no new employees will be allowed to join an old-style childcare voucher scheme and still receive the tax benefits.

How can Gotelee’s Employment Law Solicitors help you?

Constant changes and increasing complexity have helped make employment law a frontline challenge for business and this year looks set to continue the trend.

Employers, more than ever before, need sound and clear employment law advice to help them to protect their employees when things are going well and to protect themselves when relations break down.

Gotelee’s team of employment law experts, based in Ipswich, Melton, Hadleigh, Felixstowe and Woodbridge, can advise you on what you need to know to ensure your business adheres to the rules.

To find out more about how we can help you, contact us on 01473 298126 or email andrew.west@gotelee.co.uk

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