Employment law changes

April 2024: Employment law changes you need to know

April has brought with it changes to employment rate changes. As an employer, legal obligations require these changes to be put into effect. So what are they, and how can you guarantee your company steers clear of negative attention and substantial penalties for non-compliance? Here, we provide all the details to help keep you compliant and safeguard your business from potential drawbacks, including significant fines and reputational damage.

The start of April marks the legal obligation for businesses to comply with the latest employment law adjustments. A notable area where HMRC is adopting a firm stance is the enforcement of the national minimum wage, firmly penalising companies that fail to adhere to it.

While it may seem straightforward, adhering to the National Minimum Wage can sometimes be a challenge for employers, especially when it comes to making deductions that could potentially lead to breaches. It is crucial for businesses to be vigilant and ensure compliance to protect their reputation and maintain ethical standards.

One common pitfall that can lead to breaching the NMW is improper deductions from employees’ wages. Whether it be uniform costs, tools, or training expenses, deductions must adhere to legal guidelines to avoid underpayment and subsequent penalties.

Another problem faced by several companies is not recognising what constitutes as working time. Not only should this include time at work, but also time spent travelling to and from different places of work, or time spent waiting to start or finish a shift.

Naming & shaming underpayers

Numerous companies have faced scrutiny and legal consequences for underpaying their employees in violation of the National Minimum Wage regulations. The Department for Business and Trade recently named and shamed 524 employers who, together, have left 172,000 employees short of £16 million in total earnings. Notably, numerous instances trace back several years. Recent cases include Greggs, Easyjet and River Island, which were found guilty of underpaying their workers, each of which faced financial penalties of up to 200% of their underpayment.

Rates changes from 1st April 2024

  1. National Minimum Wage

As of April 2024, all minimum wage rates – including the National Living Wage rate are set to increase as follows:

  • National Living Wage (23 years old and over): From £10.42 to £11.44 (21 years old and over)
  • National Minimum Wage (18-20 years old): From £7.49 to £8.60
  • National Minimum Wage (16-17 years old): From £5.28 to £6.40
  • National Minimum Wage (apprentice rate): From £5.28 to 6.40

2. Statutory Maternity, Paternity, Adoption, Shared Parental and Parental Bereavement Pay

Statutory Maternity Pay, Statutory Paternity Pay, Statutory Shared Parental Pay, Statutory Adoption Pay, and Statutory Bereavement Pay all increase from £172.48 to £184.03 per week.

  1. Statutory Sick Pay

From April 2024, Statutory Sick Pay will increase from £109.40 to £116.75. The lower earnings limit remains at £123.

As we approach April 2024, Consult HR urges all our clients to familiarise themselves with the upcoming changes in rates for employers in Northern Ireland and to ensure compliance with the National Minimum Wage requirements. By staying informed and implementing best practices, businesses can safeguard their operations, support their workforce, and uphold ethical standards in employment practices.

Remember, compliance is key to a successful and sustainable business! If you need further information or guidance on any of the above, please do not hesitate to get in touch today. Email: julie@consulthr.co.uk or call: 07858089006.