March 17 – Trade Union Act: important public services

The Trade Union Act 2016 sets additional strike balloting requirements for those working in ‘important public services’. For strike action in those services to be lawful, not only must 50% of those eligible to vote participate in the ballot, but 40% must support the action proposed (as opposed to a simple majority of those voting, as required in strike ballots elsewhere).

The government has now produced five sets of draft regulations specifying the categories of important public service workers covered by the additional 40% threshold. They include:

  • Hospital services such as A&E, intensive care, psychiatric and emergency midwifery services
  • Teachers of compulsory school age children, and those working in further education
  • Fire-fighters, and fire and rescue service personnel organising emergency responses
  • London bus, national rail, and tramway personnel, including maintenance workers, and air traffic control, airport and port security services
  • Border control, sea patrol and border intelligence personnel.

The draft regulations are due to come into force on 1 March 2017.

Regulations on nuclear decommissioning services are to be produced at a later date.

No enforcement date has been given for the section of the Act dealing with 40% balloting requirement.

April 2017 – Apprenticeship Levy

An apprenticeship levy is coming into force for any public and private employers with an annual pay bill for the previous tax year in excess of £3 million on 6 April 2017. All employers in this category, whether or not they actually use apprentices, will have to contribute 0.5% if their annual pay bill, calculated on the basis of all payments to employees (including wages, bonuses and commission) that are subject to employer class 1 NICs. Levied employers with apprenticeships will receive an annual allowance of £15,000 to offset against their apprentice costs.

April 2017 – Gender Pay Reporting: data snapshot

All private and voluntary sector employers in England, Wales and Scotland with at least 250 employees will be required to publish information annually about the differences in pay between men and women in their workforces. The information must be based on a ‘snapshot’ of their pay bill on 5 April 2017, and annually thereafter, and the first reports need to be published by 4 April 2018. This reporting requirement is to be rolled out to larger public sector employers in due course.

April 2017 – National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage

From 2017, any changes to the National Living Wage (NLW) rates and National Minimum Wage (NMW) will take place in April.

In November 2016, the government announced in its Autumn Statement that the following NLW and NMW rates would apply from April 2017:

  • The rate for workers aged over 25 years (NLW) will increase to £7.50 per hour.
  • The rate for workers aged 21 to 24 years will increase to £7.05 per hour.
  • The development rate for 18 to 20 year olds will increase to £5.60 per hour.
  • The rate for 16 to 17 year olds will increase to £4.05 per hour.
  • The apprentice rate will increase to £3.50 per hour.

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