Budget 2017 Key Points for Employers

The Autumn Budget 2017 has highlighted a number of key points that Employers need to consider for their organisations and people.

Wages

The Government has confirmed that it has accepted the recommendations of the Low Pay Commission (LPC) for increases to the national living wage (NLW) and the national minimum wage (NMW). Accordingly, from April 2018 the Government will increase the NLW, which applies to workers aged 25 and over, by 4.4% from £7.50 to £7.83. The LPC has estimated that this will benefit over 2 million workers. At the same time, the NMW rates will be increased as follows:

  • from £7.05 to £7.38 for 21 to 24 year olds;
  • from £5.60 to £5.90 for 18 to 20 year olds;
  • from £4.05 to £4.20 for 16 and 17 year olds; and
  • from £3.50 to £3.70 for apprentices.

Taxation

In accordance with its commitment to raise the personal allowance (PA) to £12,500 and the higher rate threshold (HRT) to £50,000 by 2020, the Government has announced that in the 2018/19 tax year the PA and HRT will be increased to £11,850 and £46,350 respectively. The Government has also announced that, with effect from April 2018, there will be no benefit in kind charges on electricity that employers provide to charge employees’ electric vehicles. The report further details a number of changes the Government will make to the taxation of employee expenses following a call for evidence that was published in March 2017.

Employment Status

The Government has stated that it will publish a discussion paper as part of its response to the Taylor review of employment practices, which will explore the case and options for longer-term reform to make employment status tests for both employment rights and tax clearer. It has acknowledged that this is an important and complex issue, and it will therefore work with stakeholders to ensure that any potential changes are considered carefully.

Source: UK Government

The Chancellor of the Exchequer delivered his 2017 Autumn Budget speech to the House of Commons on Wednesday 22 November. On the same day, the full Budget report was published by the Government.

Please contact us for help with understanding and implementing any of the key points above.

The Rise of the Gig Economy

The Gig Economy is a labour market characterised by the prevalence of short-term contracts and freelance work as opposed to permanent jobs. A Gig is a job that is temporary or has an uncertain future.

The Taylor Review, published in July and the more recent Work and Pensions & BEIS Committees report ‘A Framework for Modern Employment’ published this November, have identified within the Gig Economy, that there needs to be clear definition of a contractor and a review of employment status with primary legislation to set out key principles and secondary legislation to provide guidance.

The Taylor Review has looked at wider worker status including that of agency workers and recommended flexibility, being able to earn the national minimum wage and less emphasis on the requirement to perform work personally. Importantly there should now be a written statement of terms and conditions, extended to workers as well as employees, and an introduction of higher national minimum wage for hours that are not guaranteed as part of the contract. It is advisable now to record periods of continuous employment, despite breaks in service and improve the transparency of information given to agency workers more generally.

Further implications on HR practice include the right to ask for the agency worker to request a direct contract of employment after 12 months of engagement with the same hirer and the right to request a contract that guarantees hours, reflecting actual hours worked, for those who have been in post on a zero hours contract for 12 months.

Employers should be required to report on their employment practices, including their model of employment and their use of agency workers.

A Framework for Modern Employment has sought clarity in primary legislation of the key principles:

  • Legislation to introduce greater clarity on definitions of employment status, emphasising the importance of control and supervision of workers and not as focused on the right of substitution.
  • Legislation to implement a worker by default model to apply to companies who have a self employed workforce above a certain size.
  • Low Pay Commission pilot for workers who work non-contracted hours to receive a pay premium on the NMW and NLW.
  • Continuous service preserved for breaks in employment of up to one month.
  • Higher, punitive fines and costs orders on employers if they have already lost a similar case.
  • Great use of class actions in tribunals in disputes over wages, status and working time.
  • Government rules out introducing any legislation that would undermine the NMW/NLW.

And also clarity in secondary legislation to provide guidance:

  • Extension of duty to provide written statement of terms and conditions to cover workers as well as employees from day one of the job.
  • Lower the ICE threshold.
  • End the Swedish derogation for agency workers.
  • Deterrent penalties, including punitive fines, for repeat or serious breaches of employment legislation and naming and shaming for all non-accidental breaches of employment rights by business and supply chains.
  • Increased resources for the Director of labour Market Enforcement to be both reactive and proactive funded through higher fines on non-compliant organisations.

For more information and support in developing appropriate policies and practice for hiring workers within the Gig Economy, please contact us.

staff appraisals

Staff appraisals and their link to pay can be one of a manager’s most challenging and contentious moments in their role.

Narrow Quay HR has a bespoke training designed as a package of services to help schools, businesses and health practices create, and delivery a robust and effective appraisal process.

The bespoke four hour appraisal training workshop includes:

The importance of appraisals and the legal context in which they are held
How to conduct an effective appraisal – they skills needed, how to set objectives and how to assess performance
Practical guidance and real life examples
How to tackle performance concerns and interplay with the capability procedure

The workshop is designed to provide practical training to those carrying out appraisals in schools, businesses and health practice and covers the skills that are needed as well as the wider context of the appraisal system.

We also focus on providing strategic advice and can provide a suite of tailored appraisal documentation.

So how does the Effective Staff Appraisal workshop happen? Initially we will meet with you to discuss your current appraisal process, concerns over the current process and your key aims. We will then provide written recommendations of the practical steps you need to implement or improve within your appraisal system.

This will be accompanied by a comprehensive suite of appraisal documents including: guidance for appraisers and appraisees; an appraisal policy; appraisal forms; and a letter to staff, introducing them to your new system.

We have worked with many different organisations, reviewing their pay policies and can work with you to ensure that your policy is legally compliant and operates to support your strategic aims, including linking pay with performance where appropriate.

We are on hand every step of the way to support you with implementation of the new policy and to help address any implications for staff.

Please contact us if you would like to find out more.

Unconscious Bias

Unconscious Bias is a hot topic right now. The progress towards creating a more diverse workforce at all levels is an objective that most employers are focusing on today.

Raising awareness and investing in staff development in this area through the use of interactive workshops and training is key.

Unconscious bias is a bias that we are unaware of, and which happens outside of our control. It happens automatically and is triggered by our brains making quick judgements and assessments of people and situations, influenced by our background, cultural environment and personal experiences.

Unconscious bias can occur in many situations and in relation to many prejudices, which could include, but are not restricted to: Physical characteristics or appearances; Social context; Stereotyping and favouritism

Research has shown that unconscious bias is a habit that can be changed.

We run workshops that can help to highlight the role unconscious bias can play and provide practical strategies to mitigate its effects. This will help leaders and managers to make fair and transparent decisions and minimise discrimination.

Our unconscious bias workshops are a key strategic tool in promoting equality and diversity within your workplace and eradicating unlawful discrimination.

The workshop covers: Key concepts from the Equality Act 2010 including the protected characteristics and the types of discrimination; Examples of the Equality Act in practice; Exploring unconscious bias and how it can impact in the workplace; Practical advice on how to mitigate the effects of unconscious bias.

Please get in touch for more information and to book a workshop for you and your team.

Barristers HR Support

Barristers HR Support is a hot topic and in its latest move to align the chambers model with current employment practices, the Bar Council is making available, external HR support for barristers.

We have been retained to help chambers and barristers manage their concerns and create robust and sustainable solutions to their HR challenges.

HR matters in chambers are traditionally dealt with by barristers’ clerks. However, Isabel DiVanna, commercial director at the Bar Council, said chambers often need additional insight on HR matters as ‘it’s easy to get things wrong – and costly when this happens’.

Read More in the Law Society Gazette

We are delighted to be offering HR consultancy services to barristers and look forward to sharing some interesting and insightful case studies with you very soon.

Bar Council Logo

Narrow Quay HR has been appointed by The Bar Council to provide HR expertise to its members, including all barristers and chambers in England and Wales.

Founded in 1894, The Bar Council is the representative body of the Bar of England and Wales. It has 16,000 members.

 

Dr Isabel DiVanna, Commercial Director at The Bar Council, commented:

“Chambers often tell us that HR is one area where they feel additional insight is needed, as it’s easy to get things wrong – and costly when this happens. VWV is a reputable firm and trusted Bar Council partner, so we anticipate this additional provision being of particular value to our colleagues in chambers’ management.”

Caitlin Anniss, HR Consultant at Narrow Quay HR, said:

“Providing HR support to Bar Council members will enable us to offer access to experienced HR consultants who are on hand to help with both day to day queries and larger projects, where there may not be the HR resource in Chambers to deal with these issues.

We look forward to providing this HR support to our professional colleagues, and to helping them manage their day to day HR challenges in a cost effective and flexible way.”