Challenges for Employers in 2017

By: Fintan O'Toole

On Target’s HR advisers, The HR Dept have polished their crystal ball to look ahead at some of the challenges that will face employers next year.

Whilst there is a great deal that remains uncertain following Brexit and the US election, there are some things that are already in the pipeline. However, this list is not exhaustive and things will no doubt change as we move through 2017.

Let’s start with what they know is coming:

Gender Pay Gap Reporting

The HR Dept advise that from April 2017, employers with over 250 employees will have to calculate and publish the gender pay gap (difference in pay between men and women) present within their organisation. Even if you don’t have to report it, you should be paying male and female employees the same for work of equal value - or risk an equal pay claim!

The Immigration Act 2016 Skills Charge comes into effect

This Act is to discourage employers from employing migrant workers, and to tackle the practice of employing illegally. A Skills Charge is due in April. From then, companies employing migrants under Tier 2 of the Immigration Points System will have to pay a sponsorship fee of £1,000 (or £364 for smaller businesses).

Statutory Wage Rises

Both the National Minimum Wage and the National Living Wage will, from April 2017, rise together. Before, one rose in October and the other in April. By putting these dates together, you’ll only need to look at this once a year, so the government might actually be saving you admin time here.

The Autumn Statement

The Autumn Statement has now been released and the HR Dept have blogged about it. Click here to check it out. A rise is planned for the National Living Wage and there are plans to phase out some salary sacrifice schemes. So, from April 2017, staff aged 25 years and above will need to be paid a minimum of £7.50 p/h. It’s worth looking out for The HR Dept Twitter updates @TheHRDept.

And on the horizon?

It’s hard to know what the impact of Brexit will have on Employment Law. And it is at least two years away. We have been told that when Brexit happens European Law will become UK Law and there will be no change until it is amended by Parliament. So no immediate change is foreseen for European led laws e.g. Working Time Regulations. What will change almost certainly, is how the UK manages its migrant workforce, and this may impact on those who’re currently working in the UK from abroad.

Are your team members employed, self-employed or workers?

Did you see the Uber judgment? If not, read more here. An employment Tribunal recently awarded Uber’s drivers ‘workers’ rights’, dismissing Uber’s claim that the drivers were self-employed. This is an important issue as many businesses use people on a “self-employed” basis, sometimes incorrectly. The ruling reminds us that as a matter of public policy the Courts aren’t in favour of UK businesses by-passing their basic employment responsibilities. This is something on which the government is currently carrying out consultation on.

One thing is certain The HR Dept will be there to advise on any employment related issues that On Target and their clients may have. With Tribunal claims now averaging over £8,500 and with legal fees on top, a wrong step can mean the difference between profit and loss for some employers. The indemnity insurance behind The HR Dept’s advice removes the risk of expensive awards bringing down the business. For further details contact fintan@hrdept.co.uk.

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