April is always a significant time of year for legislative changes in the employment sector, coinciding with the tax year end. Employers should ensure they are fully aware of these changes and increase pay accordingly to comply with the applicable statutory rates.
Please see below a snapshot of the key changes:
• The UK’s National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage rose. The new hourly rates are:
o Age 23 and over = £9.50 (National Living Wage)
o Age 22 to 21 = £9.18
o Age 20 to 18 = £6.83
o Age 17 to 16 = £4.81
• The capped weekly rate of statutory maternity, adoption, paternity and other parental leave increased to £156.66.
• The rate of statutory sick pay (SSP) increased to £99.35 per week. Note that in England and Wales, there are no longer special rules entitling employees to SSP due to COVID-19 related absence.
• The statutory maximum for a ‘weeks’ pay’ when calculating unfair dismissal/redundancy payment increased to £571, meaning that the maximum statutory basic award will be £17,130. The cap on the compensatory award for unfair dismissal will increase to £93,878.
• National Insurance Contributions for both employers and employees will increase by 1.25%, to be spent on the NHS and social care.
• The ‘vento bands’ (guidelines followed for injury to feelings compensation awarded in successful discrimination claims) were revised as follows:
o Lower band = £990 to £9,900 (less serious cases);
o Middle band - £9,900 to £29,600;
o Upper band - £29,600 to £49,300 (the most serious cases), with the most exceptional cases capable of exceeding £49,300.
• Many COVID-19 measures came to an end, including the following:
o The end of universal free testing;
o Employers are no longer required to explicitly refer to COVID-19 in health & safety assessments;
o The sector specific guidance on working safely was replaced by new public health guidance for employers, published by the UKHSA (‘https://www.gov.uk/guidance/reducing-the-spread-of-respiratory-infections-including-covid-19-in-the-workplace’).