Posted: Mon 1st Apr 2019
Even if you only employ one member of staff, there are employment law changes taking place this year that you need to be aware of. Alison King, Enterprise Nation member and managing director at Bespoke HR, shares advice.
The government's 'good work plan' published in December 2018 made a commitment to increase penalties for employers that repeatedly breach employment law obligations, so it's essential you are aware of your responsibilities.
1. National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage increases in April
The National Living Wage increases by 4.9% from 1 April. The changes are as follows:
Aged 25 and over: From £7.83 to £8.21
16 - 17 year olds: From £4.20 per hour to £4.35 per hour.
Apprentices: From £3.70 per hour to £3.90 per hour if the apprentice is under 19, or if they are 19 or over, they must be within the first year of their apprenticeship.
If these changes affect your employees, you need to ensure the changes are in place for the April 2019 payroll.
2. Auto-enrolment pension contributions rising in April
Contribution rates for auto-enrolment pensions increase on 6 April 2019, from a minimum of 5% to 8% of earnings. This means 5% from the employee and 3% from employers.
This affects any employer with staff in a pension scheme, regardless of whether it's an auto-enrolment or existing scheme. If your employees are not in a pension scheme for automatic enrolment, or you are already paying above the minimum amount then you don't need to take any action.
Minimum employer contribution: 2%
Minimum employee contribution: 3%
Minimum total contribution: 5%
From April 2019:
Minimum employer contribution: 3%
Minimum employee contribution: 5%
Minimum total contribution: 8%
Talk to your employees so that they understand that their contributions are rising and how it affects their take-home pay.
3. Settled status for EU nationals after Brexit
Workers from Europe living in the UK may be able to remain indefinitely in the UK if they apply for settled status in 2019. To do this the must prove that they have been living in the UK for five years at the date of application. Applications opened on 30 March 2019.
Those that have been here for fewer than five years by that time can apply for pre-settled status, so that they can accrue the necessary years to qualify for full settled status.
If in doubt about an employee's right to work or right to remain, we recommend taking specialist advice and checking out government advice.
4. Changes to payslips
From 6 April, all employers aere required to itemise payslips for employees.This varies depending on how much time they have worked. This includes agency, bank, casual and zero-hours staff.
Payslips must now include:
The number of hours the employee is being paid for
Show the combined number of hours worked for which the employee is being paid or itemise the figures for different types of work and/or rate of pay
Employers will need to make sure that their payroll process can collect and display the information required and amend the format of their payslips ahead of April 2019.
5. Data compliance with GDPR
Many businesses could still be breaching GDPR requirements without even realising. Before GDPR (and under the Data Protection Act 1998) employers could obtain consent on how they processed their employees' data by simply obtaining consent from them. This was usually done as part of the employment contract.
However, since GDPR came into force last May this is no longer regarded as a safe way to ensure consent. An employee could withdraw consent at any time leaving the employer vulnerable as it will need to carry on employing that person, but under the law would be restricted on day to day actions.
Make sure all employees are issued with a privacy notice, and there is a legal or lawful/legitimate business reason for processing all data held. A privacy notice will protect your business; this should state what information you hold, and why you hold it (with a view to establishing lawful and legitimate reasons). When given to staff, it should be with a record of when they received it.
Make sure all employees are aware and understand their obligations under GDPR, including the requirements for reporting any data or potential data breach and who to inform.
A data breach could be as simple as sending an email to the wrong recipient (particularly a risk where a system predicts the name you entered and continues to use the wrong address going forward). Encourage an open, blame-free culture to allow errors to be reported and remedial action taken.
6. Changes to statutory sick and maternity pay
Another change taking place in April is an increase in statutory sick pay (SSP) which rises to £94.25 per week. Likewise, statutory maternity pay rises to £148.68 for pay weeks commencing on or after 7 April 2019.
7. Implications of Brexit
It is estimated that it could take up to 10 years to unpick and re-work legislation as a result of Brexit and there may not be many changes immediately.
The majority of EU employment law is implemented via UK legislation which will have to stay in place unless this is amended, and is not likely to be a quick process. Employees have become accustomed to employment rights and expectations and would resist any major changes.
Employers need to work on the assumption that it's unlikely there will be any significant change immediately but need to watch this space!