New rules and regulations small business owners need to know in 2024

New rules and regulations small business owners need to know in 2024
Dan Martin
Dan MartinDan Martin Content & Events

Posted: Tue 2nd Apr 2024

There are several new rules and regulations small business owners need to be aware of in 2024. See a summary below with resources to help you comply.

We are keeping this post updated so check it regularly.

The rules apply across the UK unless otherwise stated.

1 January 2024: Reporting rules for digital platforms

As part of the government's efforts to clampdown on tax evasion, digital platforms such as Airbnb, Etsy, Vinted, Uber and Amazon that are used by individuals to sell goods or services are required to report information to HM Revenue & Customs about the income of sellers using the platform.

Under the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) rules, platforms in participating must provide a copy of the information to the taxpayer to help them comply with tax obligations.

The government defines digital platforms as including "apps and websites which facilitate the provision of goods and services such as the provision of taxi and private hire services, food delivery services, freelance work and the letting of short-term accommodation".

Collection of data is required from 1 January 2024, with the reporting of the information to HMRC due from January 2025.

If you earned more than £1,000 from trading as self-employed in the last tax year you must register for Self Assessment and submit a tax return.

Online marketplaces will not be asked to share data about sellers who make fewer than 30 transactions or €2,000 (£1,735) a year. There is more information in this news story.

Useful resources:

2 January 2024: 15 hours per week of free childcare

As announced in the 2023 Spring Budget, free childcare in England is being extended to all children over nine months. It applies to working parents who individually earn more than £8,670 but less than £100,000 adjusted net income per year.

It is being introduced as follows:

  • From April 2024, all working parents of two-year-olds can access 15 hours per week.

  • From September 2024, all working parents of children aged between nine months and three-years-old can access 15 hours per week.

  • From September 2025 all working parents of children aged between nine months and three-years-old can access 30 hours free childcare per week.

Parents can apply for the first stage of the rollout from 2 January 2024 via Childcare Choices.

Useful resources:

Various dates: Rules on food imports from EU to the UK

The government is introducing new rules that impose extra checks on animal and plant products being imported into Great Britain (GB) from the European Union. The rules have previously been delayed five times.

The government says the new checks are needed to prevent diseases and pests being brought into the UK and to level the playing field for UK exporters who already have to deal with checks on their exports to the EU.

However, the government’s own estimates say the changes will increase costs for UK importers by £300m and raise food inflation by 0.2% over the next three years.

A key change is the requirement for those importing meat and dairy products to get verification from a vet in the country of origin that the products are free of disease.

The changes are being introduced as follows:

  • 31 January 2024:

  • The introduction of health certification on imports from the EU/EFTA of medium risk.

  • The introduction of health certification on imports of high-risk food and feed of non-animal origin. 

  • The introduction of import notifications for EU/EFTA products (i.e. not qualifying Northern Irish goods) from the island of Ireland to Great Britain. 

  • The introduction of the Common Health Entry Document (CHED) import notification in place of the IMP for import notifications of EU/EFTA imports of products of animal origin (POAO) and for high risk food and feed of non-animal origin (HRFNAO) imported into GB via the EU/EFTA.

The government has issued the following guidance for the changes on 31 January:

  • Register for IPAFFS online if you haven’t already done so. The person or business completing the CHED Part 1 import notification must have a UK address to register for IPAFFS.

  • Know your risk category – use the online guidance to find the risk category of your commodity

  • Ensure that your EU supply chain is preparing to provide you with health certificates and/or phytosanitary certificates – find out more here.

  • From 31 January 2024, GB authorities encourage the use of a digitally signed and verifiable GB export health certificate (EHC) in place of the paper version of the certificate for live animals and POAO imports from EU and EFTA countries where the PDF health certificate can be electronically verified. We will accept verifiable PDF certificates from TRACES and other EU/EFTA MS systems listed here. You can still use a paper GB health certificate.

  • Be ready to correctly submit your import notification in IPAFFS:

    Watch a webinar recording for importing HRFNAO via the EU to GB: the new CHED Part 1 notification.

    Watch a webinar recording for importing animal products from the EU to GB: New CHED Part 1 notification.

    Read guidance on import notifications.

  • Read introductory information leaflets for businesses on health certificates and import notifications.

  • Click here to practice making CHED import notifications in the IPAFFS training environment.

Other changes being introduced in 2024 are:

  • 30 April 2024: The introduction of documentary and risk-based identity and physical checks on medium risk animal products, plants, plant products and high risk food (and feed) of non-animal origin from the EU. Imports of sanitary and phytosanitary goods from the rest of the world will begin to benefit from the new risk based model.

  • UK importers of food, plants and plant products from the EU have to pay fees of up to £145. More details here.

  • 31 October 2024: The introduction of safety and security declarations for EU imports and a reduced dataset for imports.

Useful resources:

4 March 2024: Changes to UK company law

The government's Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act introduces several changes to company law that are designed to prevent organised criminals and fraud.

The government is aiming to introduce the following measures on 4 March:

  • greater powers to query information and request supporting evidence

  • stronger checks on company names

  • new rules for registered office addresses

  • a requirement for all companies to supply a registered email address

  • a requirement for all companies to confirm they're forming the company for a lawful purpose when they incorporate, and to confirm its intended future activities will be lawful on their confirmation

  • the ability to annotate the register when information appears confusing or misleading

  • taking steps to clean up the register, using data matching to identify and remove inaccurate information

  • sharing data with other government departments and law enforcement agencies

Useful resources:

1 April 2024: National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage

As confirmed in the 2023 Autumn Statement, the National Living Wage rises from £10.42 to £11.44 an hour in April 2024. In addition, eligibility is extended with the minimum age to qualify for the pay rate changing from 23-year-olds to 21-year-olds.

The National Minimum Wage for 18-20-year-olds increases to £8.60 per hour, a £1.11 hourly rise on the 2023 rate.

The rate for 16-17-year-olds and apprentices increases by £1.12 to £6.40.

Useful resources:

1 April 2024: Increase in VAT threshold

As announced in the 2024 Spring Budget, the threshold at which small businesses must register to pay valued added tax (VAT) will be increased from £85,000 to £90,000.

The VAT de-registration threshold will increase from £83,000 to £88,000. This means that if your VAT sales drop below that level you can de-register.

Useful resources:

1 April 2024: Business rates relief extended in England

The UK government's 75% business rates relief for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses has been extended from 1 April 2024 until 31 March 2025. The relief applies up to a cash cap limit of £110,000 per business.

Useful resource:

1 April 2024: Business rates relief extended with a reduced rate in Wales

The Welsh government's business rates relief for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses has been reduced from 75% to 40% from 1 April 2024 until 31 March 2025. The relief applies up to a cash cap limit of £110,000 per business.

Useful resource:

6 April 2024: National insurance cuts

As announced in the 2024 Spring Budget, the main rate Class 4 National Insurance Contributions (NICs) for the self-employed will be cut by 2p from April 2024, reducing the rate from 9% to 6%.

The main rate of employee National Insurance will be by 2p from 10% to 8% from 6 April 2024.

Useful resource:

6 April 2024: Class 2 National Insurance Contributions abolished 

Self-employed people with profits above £12,570 no longer required to pay Class 2 NICs, but continue to receive access to contributory benefits including the state pension.

6 April 2024: Reduction in dividend tax allowance

For 2024/25, the tax-free allowance under which no tax is payable on dividends will be reduced from £1,000 to £500.

Useful resource:

6 April 2024: Reduction in capital gains tax allowance

For 2024/25, the tax-free allowance under which no tax is payable on capital gains will be reduced from £6,000 to £3,000.

Useful resource:

6 April 2024: Income tax changes in Scotland

The Scottish government has introduced a new 'advanced' income tax band of 45% on annual income between £75,000 and £125,140.

The top rate of income tax, applied to income over £125,140, increases from 47% to 48%.

Useful resource:

6 April 2024: Flexible working changes

New regulations mean that employees have the right to request flexible working from day one of a new job.

Under previous rules, workers could make one request to work flexibly, such as working from home, working part-time, following staggered hours or adopting flexitime, every 12 months. They also needed to have worked for the employer for at least 26 weeks.

Under the new rules, an employee can do so as soon as they start a job.

Other rules allow employees to make two flexible working requests in a 12-month period and reduce the maximum time an employer can take to make a decision on a flexible working request from three months to two months.

The rules apply in England, Scotland and Wales.

Useful resources:

6 April 2024: Carer's leave

The Carer's Leave Act 2023 (Commencement) Regulations 2023 gives employees caring for a dependant with a long-term care need the statutory entitlement to one week of flexible unpaid leave per year.

The right applies from the first day of employment for employees in England, Scotland and Wales.

Useful resources:

6 April 2024: Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act

Redundancy protections that apply to employees on maternity, adoption and shared parental leave are extended to pregnant women and to parents who have recently returned to work following family-related leave.

The rules are that eligible employees "are entitled to be offered (before the end of [their] employment under [their] existing contract) alternative employment with [their] employer or an associated employer, in any suitable vacancy available that offers work appropriate for [them] and terms not substantially worse than [their] previous job".

The rules apply in England, Scotland and Wales.

Useful resources:

6 April 2024: Change to paternity leave

The change, which applies to fathers of a child who is due after 6 April 2024, or placed for an adoption on or after 6 April, can take paternity leave as a single period of one or two weeks, or as two separate periods of a week each.

Leave must finish within 52 weeks of the birth (or due date, if the baby is early), or within 52 weeks of the child's adoption.

Useful resources:

1 May 2024: Increase to Companies House fees

Companies House fees will increase following a review of the costs incurred by implementing the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act.

Various fees will increase including:

  • Incorporating a limited company online: £12 to £50

  • Registering a community interest company online: £27 to £65

  • Incorporating a limited company by post: £40 to £71

  • Changing a limited company name: £8 to £20

Useful resources:

4 June: Customs Declaration Service

Businesses must submit all export declarations through the Customs Declaration Service (CDS) by 4 June. It replaces the Customs Handling Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system.

Businesses with customs agents should ensure their agent is ready to use CDS. Those without a customs agent should make their own declarations using software that works with CDS.

Useful resources:

September 2024: Workers' right to request predictable working pattern

The Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023 provides a new statutory right for workers, including agency workers, to request a more predictable working pattern.

Acas says:

“If a worker's existing working pattern lacks predictability in terms of the hours they work, the times they work or the length of their contract, they will be able to make a formal request to change their working pattern to make it more predictable. Once a worker has made their request, their business will be required to notify them of their decision within one month.”

Useful resources:

1 October 2024: Fair distribution of tips to staff

The Tipping Act, which covers England, Scotland and Wales, will make it illegal for businesses to hold back service charges from their employees, ensuring staff receive all of the tips they have earned.

A code of practice published by the government says employers must:

  • pass on all tips and service charges to workers without deductions, except in very limited scenarios, such as deduction of income tax.

  • ensure that tips are distributed in a fair and transparent manner when the employer takes control, or exerts significant influence, over their distribution.

  • have regard to the code of practice on fairness and transparency of tip distribution when they are distributing or influencing the distribution of tips.

  • maintain a written policy on how tips are dealt with at their place of business, and ensure this policy is made available to all their workers.

  • maintain a record of all tips paid at their place of business and their allocation and distribution between each worker, to which workers have the right to request access.

The code of practice will be statutory and have legal effect, meaning it can be introduced as evidence in an employment tribunal.

October 2024: Duty on employers to prevent sexual harassment of employees

The Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Act make employers liable for harassment of their employees by third parties (such as customers or clients) and introduces a specific duty on employers to take all reasonable steps to prevent the sexual harassment of staff

Useful resources:

Dan Martin
Dan MartinDan Martin Content & Events
I'm a freelance journalist and event host who helps small businesses and the organisations that support them. I'm also Enterprise Nation's news reporter and Bristol Local Leader. I have 20 years of experience as a small business journalist having interviewed hundreds of entrepreneurs from famous names like Sir Richard Branson and Deborah Meaden to the founders behind brand new start-ups. I've worked for a range of leading small business publications and support groups, most recently as head of content at Enterprise Nation where I was responsible for the prolific output of content on the company's blog and social media. I now freelance for Enterprise Nation as the website's news reporter and as the host of the Small Business sessions podcast. I'm based in Bristol where I run and host regular events with the local small business community in my role as Enterprise Nation's Local Leader for Bristol. I also have strong connections with other major business organisations in the south west region. In total, I've hosted over 100 events including conferences with an audience of hundreds for international brands like Xero and Facebook and live web chats from inside 10 Downing Street. With my partner, I co-run Lifestyle District, a lifestyle blog focused on culture, art, theatre and photography.

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