Employment Help for the Very Busy – Spring Edition 2016
Welcome to another round-up of the latest employment news and legislative changes. If you find this information helpful, please feel free to pass on to others.
National Living Wage (1st April 2016)
The new mandatory ‘National living wage’ (NLW) applies to workers aged 25 and over and is initially set at £7.20 per hour. The Government has also announced that the National Minimum Wage for other age brackets will increase this October as follows: 21-24 year olds will increase to £6.95 per hour; 18 to 20 will increase to £5.55 an hour; 16-17 year olds will increase to £4.00 an hour and the apprenticeship rate will increase to £3.40 an hour.
Kay’s comment: Remember to factor in increases to other costs such as NIC and pension contributions. Also, please check that your rates meet or exceed the minimums, as employers who are found paying below the minimum wage face a fine equal to 100% of the underpayment owed to each worker (this doubles to 200% of the arrears owed if the debt is not cleared within 14 days).
Statutory Rate FREEZE (6th April 2016)
Statutory Sick Pay stays the same this year, at £88.45 per week. Statutory Maternity, Paternity and Adoption Pay also stay the same at £139.58 per week. However, a week’s pay, used to calculate redundancy payments, increases to £479 per week.
Psychoactive Substances (Postponed)
The Psychoactive Substances Act 2016 will not now come into force this month. The Act was intended to prohibit the production, distribution, sale and supply of psychoactive substances (which included ‘legal highs’), but not those in everyday use such as medicines, alcohol, cigarettes and caffeine.
Kay’s comment: Even though an implementation date has been postponed, I recommend that employers still review their policies covering drug abuse and check that they have a sufficiently broad drug definition to cover their employment and health and safety responsibilities. ACAS have updated information on their website http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=5572
Free Childcare (September 2016/2017)
The government is planning to double the number of hours of free childcare for 3-4 year-olds in working families from the current 15 hours to 30 hours. A series of pilot programmes, which will include Staffordshire, are due to start from September 2016, with national roll-out scheduled for September 2017.
Help to Save Scheme (April 2018)
A new ‘Help to Save’ scheme has been announced by the government, aimed at helping low-paid workers. Under the plan, workers on tax credit or universal credit will receive government top-ups equal to 50% of the amount they save up to the value of £300 a year for four years.
Kay’s comment: Although this scheme is supposed to help tackle in-work poverty and reduce vulnerable employees’ reliance on payday lending, I recommend employers take a more proactive stance by investing in practical financial education and wellbeing programmes for all their people.
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