Gender pay gap reporting
For the first time, businesses employing more than 250 staff must publish data showing the difference between what they pay to men and women. Charles Millett, employment law partner at Morecrofts Solicitors, says:
“A number of businesses have already started publishing such data, but the vast majority have not, so it will be interesting to see the wider outcomes after 4 April, which is the cut-off date for data to be published.
“There are no immediate penalties other than the risk of being named and shamed, but more responsible businesses may see it as an opportunity to dig deeper into why any disparity exists and what they can do to change their pay culture.
“While businesses with fewer than 250 staff are not obliged to collate or publish the data, some may choose to do so voluntarily, especially if they are confident of their own pay equality and see it as a way to attract new talent or even customers.”
The new General Data Protection Regulations come into effect in May 2018, imposing extra duties on businesses and other organisations, who will face fines if they fail to comply.
Under the new rules, organisations must document exactly how data is processed, stored, retrieved and deleted to identify any points where it may be at risk, as well as demonstrating they are limiing the amount of data they hold and the number of people authorised to access it.
This is likely to be the most significant and time-consuming piece of new legislation within employment law in 2018 and it means employers can no longer rely on general wording in an employment contract to cover their right to process data about their staff.
The tax rules governing termination payments are changing in April 2018, meaning people will no longer be able to avoid paying tax on the notice pay element of their severance package.
Anyone who has had their employment terminated would be well advised to consult a qualified tax adviser to discuss ways of making their severance payments more tax efficient from April onwards.
This proposed legislation would give grandparents the right to statutory leave in the same way as parents by sharing up to 50 weeks of leave with their child to care for grandchildren in the first year after their birth.
It was proposed by the government in a bid to help the estimated two million grandparents nationwide who have given up work or taken time off to care for grandchildren.
However, there has been very little update since the first announcement more than a year ago, so it is difficult to predict its exact impact during the next 12 months.
Energy performance rating
From 1 April 2018, landlords and tenants cannot rent out properties with an energy performance rating below E and landlords face a fine of up to £4,000 for failing to ensure their properties are rated above this level. Michael Gossage, a solicitor at Morecrofts Solicitors, said:
“If you are a landlord and you have an energy performance certificate (‘EPC’) rated F or G, you must undertake the works recommended to take it above the threshold and then have the property reassessed.
“Certificates are typically valid for 10 years, so if your certificate is out of date you should have the property reassessed. All steps must be taken to ensure properties are certified as being rated E or higher by no later than 1 April 2018.
“Similarly, tenants should ensure their landlord has provided a valid EPC with a rating of at least E and that reassessments are made every ten years. If there is a failure to do so, tenants should seek legal advice.”
Council tax increases
Homeowners, landlords and tenants should be aware that from April 2018 local authorities are able to increase council tax rates by up to 5.99% without holding a local referendum.
Local authorities will be able to unilaterally raise council tax by 2.99% (up 1% from last year) and raise it a further 3% to fund social care services, which would mean an average rise of around £100 per year for a band D taxpayer.