13 January 2017 by

Employment law changes 2017: the top priorities for HR (Part One)

Well, here we are, Happy 2017! Once again, we start by looking at new and important employment law priorities for 2017, the essentials in employment law for HR departments and Owner Managed Businesses in the year ahead. There’s so much going on we will set out the first five priorities in this blog with another five next week…

1. BREXIT

Are we going to see more movement of workers and skills/staffing needs in light of the pending Brexit? No specific Brexit-led legislation is expected in the short term, but movement of workers and skills/staffing needs is of great concern to many employers and employees. Take a look at your staff data and identify EU nationals – do they represent a high percentage of your workforce or occupy key roles? Do you want to offer any practical help or support with residency applications? One to consider.

2. EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

Big changes are taking place in the way that employers hold employee personal data.

Not in force until May 2018, but the wide scope of changes under the new Regulations mean that preparing for the GDPR will need to be high priority in 2017.

New governance and record-keeping requirements mean that employers will also have to create or amend policies and processes on privacy notices, data breach responses and subject access requests.

Potential fines are huge. The GDPR will come into effect before the UK exits the EU and organisations not compliant by May 2018 risk fines of up to €20 million or 4% of annual worldwide turnover, whichever is higher.

3. Gender Pay Reporting (GPR)

Employers will be required to release information relating to employee pay and bonus pay, as well as information on the number of men and women in each quartile of the organisation’s pay distribution.

Gender pay gap information must be published for the first time. Aimed at larger organisations so far (250 employees plus) private-sector, voluntary sector and public-sector organisations must be alive to the reviews taking place to identify gender pay differences.

Reviewing existing pay practices across your organisation in order to identify any anomalies is key.

The deadline for the first report and implementation of the GPR is expected to be 6 April 2017, based on pay and bonus data from 2016/17.

4. Corporate reporting duties

Businesses are being required to report on human rights, diversity and employee matters. Is your organisation up-to-date and do you understand your responsibilities?

5. National Minimum Wage and Apprenticeship Levy

Increases to national minimum wage, including the national living wage, will be aligned, with the next round of changes taking effect on 1 April 2017. The next increase will see the national living wage for staff aged 25 or over rising to £7.50.

Employers with an annual payroll of more than £3 million will be required to pay a 0.5% levy on their total pay bill starting on 6 April 2017.

Large employers will be able to access levied amounts, plus a government top-up of 10%, to fund apprenticeships from accredited training providers.

Smaller organisations not required to pay the levy will also be able to receive funding for accredited apprenticeships by contributing 10% towards the cost of an apprenticeship, with the Government paying the remaining cost.

If you would like to discuss any of the points please contact one of our solicitors in the Employment team here.

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