Employment law never stands still and the coming year will see some significant changes. Here is our guide to developments to prepare for in 2017.

Early 2017 Tax-free childcare scheme Working families will be able to claim 20% of childcare costs for children under 12. Claims will be capped at £1,200 per child per year. The new scheme will be operated centrally rather than by individual employers.
January On-line database for  employment tribunal decisions Tribunal judgments are currently only available in hard copy. HM Courts and Tribunals Service has said it will launch an on-line data base.
April New limits for employment tribunal awards expected The Order implementing changes has not yet been published so details are unconfirmed. However, tribunal awards usually increase each year in line with inflation.
1 April National living wage rises to £7.50 an hour for workers aged 25 and over  
  National minimum wage rises to £7.05 an hour for workers aged 21 to 24 see our previous article  for more details. National minimum wage rates previously increased in October but have now been aligned with the national living wage which was introduced in April 2016.
6 April Mandatory gender pay reporting regulations The Equality Act (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2016 will apply to employers in the private and voluntary sectors with 250 or more employees (which is widely defined) who will be required to publish a gender pay report every year. Organisations can chose when they publish but the first report must be published by 4 April 2018. Similar legislation for the public sector is also expected.
6 April Apprenticeship levy Employers will have to pay a levy of 0.5% of their paybill through PAYE, alongside income tax and national insurance. All businesses will receive an allowance of £15,000 to set off against the levy. In effect therefore the levy is only payable to the extent the paybill exceeds £3 million per year.
6 April Salary sacrifice schemes: beneficial tax treatment removed for certain benefits Pension contributions, pension advice, childcare, Cycle to Work and ultralow emission cars will be exempt and will continue as before. Salary exchanged for intangible benefits, such as flexible working or the buying of additional holiday will also be unaffected.holiday
10 April Rise in statutory payments for various parental leave Prescribed weekly rate of SMP, SAP, SPP, SPPP and MA rates rise to £140.98 a week.
10 April Rise in statutory sick pay Will rise to £89.35 a week.

Looking further ahead.

From April 2018 changes will be made to the taxation of termination payments. Termination payments that are subject to income tax on amounts in excess of £30,000 will also be subject to employer NICs. The government has confirmed that the £30,000 exemption will remain and that the whole termination payment will be outside the scope of employee NICs.

For further details see our previous article.

In May 2018 the new General Data Protection Regulation will come into force in the UK. This will introduce significant changes to the existing data protection regime and seriously increase the potential fines for non-compliance. The HR department should therefore take the opportunity to prepare for this upheaval this year by carrying out an audit of employee personal data it holds to ensure it meets the requirements of the GDPR and review, amend or draft new policies and procedures on data breaches, subject access requests and privacy notices. Training relevant staff on the changes will also be paramount.

For further details see our previous article.