Changes to employment legislation will have a significant impact on businesses in 2017, one of the region’s leading employment lawyers has warned.
Moves to close the gender pay gap, introduce an apprenticeship levy and further increases in the minimum wage are all on the horizon, with employers urged to make sure they are prepared.
The alert has been sounded by Sally Morris, a partner at mfg Solicitors, who said businesses will have to handle the legal shake-ups alongside the continuing uncertainty following the Brexit vote.
Ms Morris, head of the firm’s employment and HR services division, said 2017 is shaping up to be a big year for businesses who must prepare themselves for what she described as a ‘game-changing’ 12 months.
Ms Morris said:
“Clearly the biggest issue employers have is still Brexit but while the UK has voted to leave the EU, the government has not yet triggered Article 50, which is the formal process by which we withdraw. Employers are therefore still in the dark on implications Brexit has for free movement of workers.
“Aside from Brexit, however, we have a raft of game-changing amendments coming in. One key change is the the gender pay gap which will see businesses with 250 or more employees having to publish gender pay gap information for the first time.
“That’s a big administrative headache, but it comes on top of new payroll rules coming in on 6 April which will also require larger employers with a payroll of over £3 million to pay a 0.5% levy to fund a new generation of apprentices.”
Ms Morris, who advises firms across the West Midlands, added that employers must ensure they have the funding ready to pay for a rise in the National Living Wage from 1 April – with anyone aged 25 and over entitled to at least £7.50 an hour.
The changes for businesses will also see them needing to reconsider any salary sacrifice schemes they offer, as many of the tax-saving benefits are being abolished from April.
Ms Morris added:
“April is undoubtedly a key month in a key year for employment law changes but its important business leaders stay ahead. Failure to do so could mean major implications. The vital thing is to seek professional advice in plenty of time so they are not caught out by some of the most sweeping employment law changes for a generation.”
To support businesses, Ms Morris is running a workshop next month which will look at issues including Gender Pay Reporting and the controversial Apprenticeship Levy. It will take place on 16th February at 9.00 am at the firm’s Kidderminster offices.
For further details on the legal changes, or to book a place on the February workshop, readers can contact [email protected] or call 01905 734032.