Gill Taylor: From here to maternity, the HR issues that await

A number of legislative changes will affect the human resources function in the coming year

Gilly Taylor
Gilly Taylor

Here's a round-up of the main changes, large and small, that we can expect in 2017.

On 2 April, the rates of statutory maternity pay, adoption pay, paternity pay and statutory shared parental pay will go up from £139.58 a week to £140.98, or 90 per cent of the employee's average weekly earnings if this figure is less than the statutory rate. Statutory sick pay is increasing from £88.45 a week to £89.35 on 6 April 2017. To be entitled to these statutory payments, the employee's average weekly earnings must be equal to or more than the lower earnings limit, which is increasing from £112 to £113. The implementation dates of all national minimum and living wage increases will be aligned, with the next changes taking effect on 1 April. The national living wage for staff aged 25 and over will rise to £7.50 an hour.

Large compliance projects for data protection and gender pay gap reporting will dominate the mainstream human resources agenda, and many will concern us too. Although the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation does not come into force until May 2018, the scope of the changes means that preparing for the GDPR should be a high priority. Employers will need to carry out audits of staff personal data that they collect and how they process it to ensure that it meets new conditions for consent.

Private sector and voluntary sector organisations with 250 employees or more will be required to publish gender pay gap information for the first time. Employers will have to make information relating to employee pay and bonus pay public, as well as information on the number of men and women in each salary quartile. They will have to take a "data snapshot" on 5 April each year and publish it during the following 12 months - 5 April 2017 is the first date, so that will have to be published before 5 April 2018.

Some larger employers are likely to see costs increase as the apprenticeship levy comes in from 6 April. Employers with annual payrolls of £3m or more will have to pay 0.5 per cent from May. Large employers will be able to access funds for apprenticeships from accredited training providers. Smaller organisations can benefit by contributing 10 per cent towards the cost of an apprenticeship, with the government paying the remaining cost.

Employers offering benefits as tax savings through salary sacrifice schemes will need to reconsider, because many will be abolished from 6 April. Schemes related to pension savings - including pensions advice - childcare, cycling to work and ultra-low-emission cars will not be affected by the change.

Employers that sponsor overseas workers with tier-2 visas will be required to pay an immigration skills charge of £1,000 per worker - £364 for small employers and charities - and the minimum salary threshold for experienced workers applying for tier-2 visas will increase to £30,000.

The implementation date for the government's Trade Union Act 2016 has not yet been announced. At that point a successful vote for strike action will require a 50 per cent minimum turnout and a majority vote in favour of industrial action. Remember, unions were the guys that brought you the weekend, among other benefits.

Gill Taylor is a sector HR consultant

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