New National Minimum Rates announced

Effective from April 2018, the Chancellor Philip Hammond confirmed in his Autumn budget, national minimum wage increases and a new scheme affecting care sector employers who may have underpaid their employees.

New National Minimum Wage Rates

In line with the intention for the national minimum wage to increase to £9 per hour from 2020, it will increase from £7.50 to £7.83, representing a 4.4 percent uplift.  In practical terms, this will mean a pay rise of around £600 per year for a full time worker.

The other rates will increase as follows:

  • Workers aged 21-24 from £7.05 to £7.38 per hour
  • Workers aged 18-20 from £5.60 to £5.90 per hour
  • Workers aged 16-17 from £4.05 to £4.20 per hour
  • Apprentice rate from £3.50 to £3.70 per hour

The Budget was also used to announce a review of the flexibility in the way organisations may use their apprenticeship levy (large companies have been required to pay this levy since April 2017 which they can then use to fund apprenticeships) and a National Retraining Scheme to support worker’s career development.

Care employers advised to correct minimum wage wage under payments

A new scheme to encourage companies in the care sector to make good any minimum wage underpayments was launched on 1st November 2017.

Recent employment tribunal judgements have shifted a focus onto a companies minimum wage obligations in the specific area of sleep-in shifts.  HMRC’s interpretation of the legislation, in common circumstances, requires that all hours of a sleep-in shift attract the minimum wage, regardless of whether the worker is asleep.

In order to soften the impact of these decisions on social care companies, the Social Care Compliance Scheme (SCCS) will see any underpayments corrected but remove the enforcement measures applied to companies that are found to have underpaid their workers. Employers have until the end of 2018 to join up to the scheme.

Committees publish draft bill on gig economy workers

A joint draft bill containing enhanced proctections for gig economy workers has been published by two government committees.

The propsal focuses on giving individuals more certainty about their status by providing an automatic assumption of “worker” status, meaning that it would be for the company to prove otherwise at employment tribunal.  This would also mean that these workers would be entitled to certain employment rights from day one.

Some recommendations from the Taylor Report are also included in the Bill, such as considerations of a higher national minimum wage rate for those on zero hour contracts. The government is yet to provide its full response to the review and this Bill will add more pressure on the government to take action.

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A version of this article first appeared on CIPD HR-inform.

Hung parliament – what does it mean for HR and employment law?

We have a new government of sorts, after all the campaigning, the Conservative party didn’t get enough votes to form a majority government meaning they will be forming a minority government in alliance with the Democratic Unionist Party.

The main priority for the Government will be Brexit negotiations but the following points will be good to keep an eye out for:

  • There will be lots of attention to those working the in the “gig economy” and the introduction of legislation to make clear their worker/employed status.
  • There could be limited changes to National Insurance payments – they could rise but this has not be stated clearly yet.
  • It is likely there will be an increase in the personal tax allowance to £12.5k and £50k for higher tax payers.

Things for businesses to look out for

Brexit negotiations around the rights to work, both for UK and EU nationals and EU workers currently in the UK, should be kept under careful review for any developments.

With increased attention on the “gig economy”, it may result in the re-assessment of contracts between businesses and self-employed workers and will also require greater analysis of the status of an employee, worker or contractor.

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