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January 09 2019
By Sam Murray-Hinde

Sam is a Partner in the Employment Team at legal firm Howard Kennedy. More details are here


HR changes to be aware of this year

A new year has begun: Here are some of the key developments affecting all employers and in 2019

The tree is back in its box, the lights are packed away and you have finally admitted that the remains of the Christmas pudding should just go in the bin: 2019 is firmly upon us. 

There are HR changes bubbling beneath the surface for 2019

Although the ever-thorny question of Brexit will dominate the business agenda this year, there are plenty of other HR changes bubbling beneath the surface.

Wages and pay

The national living wage (payable to workers aged 25 and over) will increase to £8.21 per hour from 1 April 2019. Other national minimum wage rates will also increase: To £7.70 for workers aged 21 to under 25, to £6.15 for workers aged 18 to under 21 and to £4.35 for workers aged under 18. The apprentice rate will increase to £3.90 per hour and the daily accommodation offset will increase to £7.55.

Minimum auto-enrolment pension contribution levels will also increase. The minimum contribution is currently 5% of qualifying earnings (of which at least 2% must be paid by the employer). In April 2019 this will rise to 8% of qualifying earnings (of which at least 3% must be paid by the employer).

From 6 April 2019, the right to itemised pay statements will extend to workers as well as to employees. Where a worker's pay varies according to the time worked, employers will have to include on the itemised pay statement the total number of hours worked which attract variable pay. This will affect workers who receive shift premiums, including many in the transport sector.

UK quoted companies with 250+ employees will have to report on ratios between the CEO and employees’ pay and benefits for financial years beginning on or after 1 January 2019 (so the reports will not be due until 2020). However, affected businesses will need to gather the evidence this year and consider how to present the data.  

Workplace equality

Businesses with 250+ employees will publish their second gender pay gap reports this year.  These are likely to attract media scrutiny, particularly as businesses will have the opportunity to demonstrate any progress since last year's reports. The government is consulting on introducing similar ethnicity pay gap reporting requirements.

The government is also consulting on various measures to strengthen protection against workplace harassment and is expected to publish a statutory Code of Practice on sexual harassment this year.

Immigration

Once the UK leaves the EU, free movement of workers will end (although the timing may depend on whether the exit deal offered by the EU is accepted by Parliament). 

EU workers already in the UK will be able to apply for “settled status” in order to live and work in the UK indefinitely. Employers will need to update their recruitment processes to ensure that they obtain the correct proof of right to work in the UK for all EU workers.  

It is also likely that recruitment of EU nationals will be subject to similar restrictions to those for non-EU overseas workers. 



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