The human resources agenda in 2017 is likely to be dominated by data protection and gender pay gap reporting; in addition, employers will face the additional costs of apprenticeship levies and fees to sponsor foreign workers whilst observing a reduction in tax savings on employee benefits.
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
This EU regulation will not come into force until May 2018; however, due to the numerous changes it will bring, employers will want to prioritise their preparation for the new rules. This will require employers to carry out audits of their employee’s personal data to ensure it meets GDPR conditions and to either amend or create new policies in relation to privacy, data breaches and subject access requests.
Any organisation that is not compliant by May 2018 will face fines of up to €20m or 4% of their annual worldwide turnover, whichever is the higher figure.
Gender pay reporting
It is expected that all organisations with more than 250 employees will be obliged to publish their gender pay gap information for the first time by 4 April 2018. This will include information regarding employee pay and bonus pay. For the first time, public sector, private sector and voluntary sector organisations with 250 employees or more must publish gender pay gap information.
Employers with apprentices and an annual payroll of over £3m will be required to pay a levy of 0.5% of their total pay bill from April 2017. The funds accrued from this levy will be accessible to large employers to fund apprenticeships.
Existing salary sacrifice schemes to be significantly restricted
Whilst salary sacrifice schemes in respect of pension savings, cycle-to-work, childcare and ultra-low emission cars will continue, other salary sacrifice schemes will be abolished in 2017. Employers may need to reconsider their benefit offerings, with tax savings through many salary sacrifice schemes abolished from 6 April 2017.
Employment rules for employing foreign workers
Companies that sponsor foreign workers with a tier 2 visa must pay an immigration skills charge of £1,000 per worker from April 2017. ‘Experienced workers’ who wish to obtain a tier 2 visa must have a minimum salary of at least £30,000.
National minimum wage changes aligned
1 April 2017 will see an increase to the national minimum wage for those aged over 25 to £7.50 per hour.
Trade Union Act 2016 balloting changes
Employers are still waiting for confirmation of when the new balloting requirements will be implemented. If this happens, it will mean that there must at least a 50% turnout for a vote on strike action and a majority vote achieved; in public services, there must be a turnout of at least 40%.
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