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Employment law changes

The following key changes to employment law will come into force in April 2017:From 6 April 2017, the Finance Act 2016 will require employers with an annual pay bill in excess of £3 million in a given year to pay a 0.5% apprenticeship levy on their pay bill to fund the costs of apprenticeship training and assessment. Employers will receive an annual allowance of £15,000 to offset against their levy payment. The levy will be collected through PAYE on a monthly basis. A new system for apprenticeship funding in England will then begin to operate from 1 May 2017. Levy-paying employers will be able to access the levied monies, plus a government top-up of 10%, to fund apprenticeships for their workers from accredited training providers. Non-levy paying employers will still be able to access government apprenticeship funding but they must make a 10% contribution to the training costs and the government will pay 90%, up to the maximum amount of funding available. Although the levy applies UK wide, different arrangements for apprenticeship funding will take effect in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.The National Minimum Wage (Amendment) Regulations 2017 will increase the national minimum wage (NMW) and national living wage (NLW) rates from 1 April 2017. The NLW for workers aged 25 or over will increase to £7.50 per hour, the NMW standard rate for workers aged 21 to 24 will increase to £7.05 per hour, the NMW development rate for workers aged 18 to 20 will increase to £5.60 per hour, the NMW young workers rate for workers aged 16 and 17 will increase to £4.05 per hour and the NMW apprentice rate will increase to £3.50 per hour. The Employment Rights (Increase of Limits) Order 2017 will increase the maximum amount of a “week’s pay” from £479 to £489 from 6 April 2017. A week’s pay is used to calculate statutory redundancy payments, the unfair dismissal basic and additional awards and payments to employees in the event of insolvency. From 6 April 2017, the Order also increases the limit on the unfair dismissal compensatory award from £78,962 to £80,541 and it increases the limit on the daily amount of statutory guarantee pay from £26 to £27. The Social Security Benefits Up-rating Order 2017 will increase the weekly rate of statutory sick pay from £88.45 to £89.35 from 6 April 2017 and it will also increase the standard weekly rates of statutory maternity, adoption, paternity and shared parental pay from £139.58 to £140.98 from 2 April 2017. The earnings threshold, below which employees are not entitled to these statutory payments, will increase from £112 to £113 per week from 6 April 2017.