Employers – what to expect in 2017 when it comes to HR

Given recent events, uncertainty is rife going into 2017. Brexit was never going to dramatically affect employment law, but still change is on the horizon as our divorce from the EU gets closer

The following are the things that we do know are happening in 2017, and it’s important that you as an employer do too. In this week’s blog, we reveal the changes that could affect your business.
Considering recent events, we’re sure you’ll forgive us for being cautious with our predictions for 2017. If you went to the bookies for a punt on Brexit plus a Trump victory, you’re probably still celebrating. Though we would suggest you keep the celebrations quiet as he continues to shock the world.
As 2016 comes to a close though, it’s important that we look ahead to 2017, and the hopefully ‘pleasant surprises’ it could have in store for employers and business owners. This isn’t an exhaustive list, things will no doubt change as we move through 2017.
Let’s start with what we know is coming:
Gender pay gap reporting – 5 April 2017
Have less than 250 employees? Don’t worry, this won’t affect you. Employers with this number and more though 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 – April 2017
This is the Act designed to push employers away from employing migrant workers, and to tackle the practice of employing illegally. Not all powers introduced by the Act commence on the same date. But the skills charge is due in April. From the commencement date, 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 are brought into sync – April 2017
The National Minimum Wage and the National Living Wage will, from this date, 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. Thanks government!
The Autumn Statement
The Autumn Statement has now been released and we’ve blogged about it. Click here to check it out. A rise is planned for the National Living Wage despite potential instability in the economy. So, in April 2017 prepare to pay your staff aged 25 and above a minimum of £7.50 p/h. Keep an eye on our Twitter for updates @TheHRDept.
What’s on the horizon?
Brexit. Until we see the plan it’s hard to say how things will go in the field of employment law. And it is at least two years away. So we are very unlikely to see an immediate scrapping of any of our European led laws e.g. Working Time Regulations. What will undoubtedly change, is how the UK manages its migrant workforce, including people who’re currently working in the UK from abroad.
The end of the gig economy?
Caught the Uber ruling? If not, click here. A tribunal judge recently awarded Uber’s drivers with ‘workers’ rights’, dismissing Uber’s claim that each driver is self-employed. Why is it so important? Because so many businesses use people on a self-employed basis, sometimes incorrectly. The ruling suggests the courts aren’t in favour of UK businesses by-passing their basic employment responsibilities. The government are currently carrying out a consultation which looks at this.
So there is a lot coming, but don’t worry. The HR Dept will be there throughout 2017 to keep you up to date.
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Ian heads up the HR Dept Edinburgh & the Lothians team. The HR Dept specialises in helping SMEs with everything to with employment, through a local and personal service delivering practical and pragmatic advice and support. With nearly 30 years HR experience, Ian has a wealth of experience in helping businesses to ensure success through their people, be legally compliant and handle tricky people issues. As a business owner himself, Ian understands the challenges that come with running and growing a business. He is known for his ability to explain complex concepts simply and to make learning fun and enjoyable.