Following are some considerations on the key issues likely to arise.
Large compliance projects for data protection and gender pay gap reporting will dominate the HR agenda in 2018. Employers are likely to see costs increase as the apprenticeship levy and additional fees for sponsoring foreign workers are introduced, and tax savings for employee benefits are significantly reduced.
Employers will also continue to deal with the implementation of restraints to public-sector exit payments and new trade union balloting rules in 2018.
1. GDPR comes into effect
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which updates and harmonises data protection law across the EU, will come into effect on 25 May 2018 for all EU member states, including the UK.
Data protection policy
Organisations will be conducting data audits and policy reviews in the lead up to next May, to ensure that their data protection practices are GDPR compliant.
Many employers will need to issue new or updated privacy notices to employees and job applicants, outlining what data they collect and how the data is used.
2. First gender pay gap reporting deadline
Private- and voluntary-sector employers with 250 or more employees have until 4 April 2018 to publish their first gender pay gap report.
Similarly, specified public-sector employers with 250 or more employees are required to publish their first gender pay gap reports by 30 March 2018.
3. Minimum wage rates increase
The national living wage for workers aged 25 and over will increase to £7.83 per hour on 1 April 2018.
Other national minimum wage rates will also increase, with rates rising to £7.38 per hour for workers aged 21 to 24, to £5.90 per hour for workers aged 18 to 20 and to £4.20 for workers aged 18 who are no longer of compulsory school age.
The apprentice minimum wage rate will rise to £3.70 per hour and the accommodation offset will increase to £7.00 per day.
4. Statutory family pay amounts uprated
The weekly amount for statutory family pay rates will increase to £145.18 on 1 April 2018. This rate will apply to maternity pay, adoption pay, paternity pay, shared parental pay and maternity allowance.
5. Brexit preparations underway
Employers and workers were relieved to hear of the Government’s initial agreement with the European Commission. The terms protect the rights of EU citizens who currently reside in the UK to live, work and study in the UK following Brexit.
The announcement provides employers with more certainty as they continue to develop their contingency plans around Brexit. The agreement does not relate to the ability of new EU workers to migrate to the UK to work after Brexit.
As such, employers in sectors that rely on considerable inflows of European workers are still waiting for confirmation of immigration arrangements following withdrawal from the EU.