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We’re only 3 months in and already 2017 is set to be a year of great chance. Not just on the world stage, where Donald Trump is currently making some questionable waves, but also in the world of small business. This year, some very important changes are coming into effect – particularly in the next month or so, and as a small business owner you can’t afford to ignore them. So we’ve brought you a quick rundown of the 6 major changes, and what you might need to do to prepare for them.

Pension Auto-Enrolment

Depending on the size of your business, you might have come across this one already. Last year saw a crackdown on all the big-name companies for pensions, and 2017 is the year for small businesses. Each business will have their own unique staging date for auto-enrolment, and it is your job as a business owner to make sure all of your employees have been enrolled into a pension scheme. Your employees can always choose to opt out, but it is essential that you have provided a pension provision for them and that they have been automatically enrolled. 

Changes To Statutory Pay 

In just a few short weeks, the statutory pay rates for staff who are having children are set to increase, in a big to improve the quality family life. This increase covers statutory maternity pay, paternity pay, shared parental pay and adoption pay. The basic rate, which was £139.58 per week, will be raised to £140.98 per week, or 90% of an employee’s earnings. Another statutory pay rate to see changes is statutory sick pay, which will rise from £88.45 per week to £89.35 per week.  In order to take advantage of these statutory payments, your employees average earnings must be equal to or more than the lower earnings limit (which is also increasing from £112 to £113 per week).

Increased National Living And Minimum Wage

Another big change happening in April – the National Living Wage for those 25 and over will be increased from £7.20 per hour to £7.50 per hour. While this might not sound like a lot, it can make a real difference to full time employees who are paid hourly. To match that rise, the National Minimum Wage (payable to the under 25’s and those in apprenticeships) is also set to increase, though with no firm figures just yet. These are the minimum requirements of pay for all workers across the UK, so you need to make sure you are meeting them.

Salary Sacrifice Scheme Tax Changes 

This year, the government has made the controversial move to revoke tax benefits for many salary sacrifice schemes from April, mainly relating to company cars, work related training, workplace parking, private health schemes, mobile phone contracts, computers, gum memberships, accommodation and school fees. Just to name a few. There are some transition arrangements in place to help employers and employees handle this drastic change, and it is worth mentioning that a few schemes are exempt from the change. These include pension contributions, childcare, cycling to work and ultra-low emission cars. If you’re not sure, get in touch and we can help guide you through the process.

Apprenticeship Levy

Again, from the beginning of April this year, businesses with a salary bill over £3m will be required by law to contribute funding towards the costs of UK apprentices via the Apprenticeship levy. The hope being that this will encourage bigger companies to take on and train more apprentices. In May, a new scheme of co-investment for smaller employers will also be introduced for those who want to train apprentices. They will be required to make a 10% contribution to the cost of training their apprentice, while the government will cover the other 90% of the costs. 

Gender Pay Gap Reporting

Finally, an issue for the bigger employees. If you employee less than 250 people, you can skip this one. But if you employ 250 or more people, listen up. From April you will need to start collecting data on your payroll, in order to publish your first gender pay gap report on your website – which you are required by law to do. This cannot be edited, must be certified and has to be left published and accessible for a minimum of 5 years.

Keeping up with the ever-changing world of employment law is no walk in the park. At Caversham Solicitors, we make sure out experts are always up to date and ahead of the curve so that we can pass on that knowledge to our clients. We work with small and medium sized businesses across the South East of England, helping them to understand their obligations as an employer and put the theory into practice. For advice, support or just to ask us a question, get in touch with one of our expert team today.