Employment Law Updates for your Business in 2018

“Human resources isn’t a thing we do. It’s the thing that runs our business.”–Steve Wynn

For many small business owners, employment law updates and HR are a burden and headache that they would happily do without. However, unless you want to suffer the consequences and penalties of non-compliance then these are areas of employment law that your business must comply within 2018.

APRIL

01 April sees the implementation of The National Minimum Wage (Amendment) Regulations 2018, which increase the hourly rate of the national living wage. The rates are as follows for workers who are:

Aged 25 and over, from £7.50 to £7.83 per hour

Aged at least 21 but under 25 rises from £7.05 to £7.38 per hour

Aged at least 18 but under 21 increases from £5.60 to £5.90 per hour

Aged 16 or 17 rises from £4.05 to £4.20 per hour

The apprentice rate rises from £3.50 to £3.70 per hour.

There is also an increase in the accommodation offset from £6.40 to £7.00 per day.

01 April also sees increases the rate of statutory maternity pay, statutory paternity pay, statutory adoption pay and statutory shared parental pay from £140.98 to £145.18 per week.

By 04 April 2018, private and voluntary sector employers in England, Wales and Scotland with at least 250 employees are required to publish information about the differences in pay between men and women in their workforce. This information will be based on a pay bill ‘snapshot’ date of 5 April 2017, under the Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2017.

06 April brings increases to the personal income tax allowance, which increases to £11,850 and the higher rate tax threshold to £46,350. It also sees the increase in contributions to the pensions auto-enrolment scheme. The increase in the minimum level of employer contribution into a pensions auto-enrolment scheme will be from 1% to 2%. A further planned increase to 3% will take effect in April 2019.

It is also prescribed that the lower level of qualifying earnings for pensions auto-enrolment increases to £6,032 and the upper level of qualifying earnings increases to £46,350 for the tax year 2018/19. The earnings trigger for auto-enrolment remains unchanged at £10,000.

Statutory Sick pay will increase as of 06 April from £89.35 to £92.05 per week.

MAY

On 25 May the General Data Protection Regulation (2016/679 EU) (GDPR) replaces the Data Protection Directive (95/46/EC). This will be one of the most significant pieces of legislation that will affect business in 2018. In our post GDPR: 10 Things You Need To Know  we have provided information on the most important things we believe you should know regarding GDPR.

The Regulation harmonises data protection law across the EU and extends it to include all foreign companies processing the data of EU residents. The Regulation:

  • provides for the creation of a single data protection authority instead of a supervisory authority for each member state, and the creation of data protection officers for all public authorities and companies processing high volumes of data;
  • provides for the imposition of a fine of €20 million or 4% of global turnover, whichever is greater;
  • requires the positive consent of individuals to have their data processed;
  • provides for the notification of breaches to the data protection authority; and
  • extends the special categories of information, such as trade union membership and religious belief or political opinion, to include information relating to health.

JUNE

The 9th of June sees the implementation of the Trade Secrets Directive (2016/943/EU) which introduces an EU-wide definition of “trade secret” as information that is secret, has commercial value because it is secret, and has been subject to reasonable steps by the holder of the information to keep it secret. The Directive provides protection against the unlawful acquisition, use or disclosure of a trade secret or other conduct contrary to “honest commercial practices”.

Whistleblowers are excluded from liability where disclosure of a trade secret serves the public interest.

Please note the updates are applicable to England and Wales; some updates may vary in Scotland.