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The year for practice managers to dust off their HR hats

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Throughout 2017, practice managers will be wearing their HR hats more often than usual. From how your practice handles employee data, through gender pay gap reporting, restrictions on salary sacrifice schemes, and rules for employing foreign workers, there will be plenty of HR work that needs attending to this year and next.

In this article, we'll brief you on six of the major law changes that are either current or pencilled in for the coming months.

Data protection rules from Europe come into force in May 2018. Even if Brexit has been triggered by then, there is no getting out of implementing the changes required by the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which comes into force in May. You should start preparing now, if you haven't done so already. Specifically:

Audit your employees' personal data. It must comply with GDPR conditions for employee consent.

  • Create or amend policies and procedures on privacy notices, data breaches, and access requests.
  • Be warned: if you're not ready by May you could face a fine of up to €20 million (or 4% of your worldwide turnover if it's greater).

Get ready for gender gap pay reporting

Although the deadline for the first report isn't until April 2018, get prepared early. The April 2018 date is for reporting pay gaps based on your 2016/17 payroll. To begin with, the rules will apply to businesses and organisations with more than 250 employees, but as previous policies have shown this is likely to filter down to smaller organisations in due course.

Find more information here:

Gender pay gap reporting consultations – government pages

Advice on gender pay gap reporting – from ACAS

Gender pay gap reporting in the public sector – HR Law Live

Will you pay the Apprenticeship Levy?

If your turnover is more than £3 million a year, you'll be required to pay a 0.5% levy from 6th April 2017 into a fund set up for the benefit of advancing apprenticeships.

Large employers can access the Apprenticeship Levy fund to help pay for apprenticeships from accredited providers.

Smaller organisations will also be able to access apprenticeship funding, providing they contribute 10% towards the cost of the apprenticeship.

Find more information here:

How apprenticeship funding works – government pages

Apprenticeship levy factsheet

Restrictions to salary sacrifice schemes come into force

If you provide benefits to your employees which take advantage of salary sacrifice schemes, these could be abolished from 6th April 2017. Schemes related to pensions, childcare, Cycle to Work, and ultra-low emission cars will not be affected – all others will be.

However, to aid transition any scheme which is in place prior to April 2017 will be protected until April 2018. There will also be transitional arrangements for car, accommodation, and school fee schemes until 2021.

Employing foreign workers will cost more

From 6th April 2017, if you sponsor a Tier 2 visa for a foreign worker you'll be charged an immigration skills charge of £1,000 per worker. This will be set at £363 for small employers and charities.

In addition, the minimum salary for a Tier 2 worker will increase to £30,000, though some health and education employees will be exempt from this threshold until 2019.

National minimum wage changes

National minimum wage cycles are to be aligned, with the next changes taking place on 1st April 2017. The national living wage for employees aged 25 and older rises to £7.50.

More time, more effort, more costs

These regulation changes are going to put more emphasis on the HR side of general practice. Getting it right will require extra time and effort. Getting it wrong could incur some hefty fines and other consequences.

With the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy and foreign worker charges, employer costs could rise. Meanwhile, the value of salary sacrifice benefits will be significantly eroded for employees.

Stay ahead of the game – start preparing today. Research and read on each of the new regulations and decide if and how they affect you. Then create a strategy to tackle those issues and get your staff involved.

eSupplies Medical is a trading name of Williams Medical Supplies Ltd, a DCC business