Business News Opinion

What are the key HR issues you need to know about this year?

Alison King is MD at independent HR consultancy, Bespoke HR

With the introduction of the apprenticeship levy, the end of the Employee Tribunal Scheme and the launch of a new tax-free childcare scheme, 2017 was an eventful year for business owners tasked with HR. What’s in store for 2018?

  • GDPR

From 25th May 2018 the biggest changes in data protection laws in this country for over 20 years come into force.  The Data Protection Act will be replaced by the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which sets out strict new rules about the storage and use of personal data. This has huge implications for all businesses as failure to comply will incur huge penalties, and could be catastrophic for business owners. This will mean a lot of work for some employers to ensure their processes and policies are fit for purpose.

The main implications are:

o    For small businesses with under 250 employees, GDPR applies when processing of personal data is likely to result in a risk to the rights and freedom of the subjects.

o    Individuals will have the right to withdraw their consent for the use of data, essentially becoming ‘forgotten’.

o    Failure to comply will lead to hefty punishments. The ICO can fine up to £500,000 for misuse but the GDPR will be able to fine up to €20 million or 4 per cent of annual turnover (whichever is higher).

We advise conducting an information audit as soon as possible to firstly understand what data is held, how and why. The ICO website has lots of useful guidance for small businesses.

  • National Living Wage

The National Living Wage will rise from £7.50 to £7.83 per hour from April 2018. Any businesses paying staff the National Living Wage will need to be set up with payroll to factor in this increase.

  • Employee tribunal fees

At the end of July 2017, the Supreme Court ruled that the employment tribunal fee scheme, introduced by the Government in 2013, was unlawful. This year we could therefore see an increase in claims, with no fees longer left to pay. It is essential that care homes get the following HR documents in place:

o    Employment contract– every member of staff should have one. This should be signed by both parties as soon as the employee joins the company, but at the very least within 2 months of the commencement of employment. If the business doesn’t have an HR Manager, it’s worth outsourcing this task to professionals to make sure the contracts are watertight, legally compliant and have both sufficient contractual force and protection to ensure they have the strongest foundations possible to deal with tricky situations.

o    Employee handbook– effectively a rule book which details company policies and ethos and aims to ensure both manager and employees always act in a manner compliant with employment legislation.


  • Tax free childcare

The scheme, launched in April 2017, is estimated to benefit two million households, helping with the cost of childcare and encouraging more parents to work. This new scheme will gradually replace the old Childcare Vouchers system. The key difference for employers under the new scheme is that they won’t need to get involved as the new account will rely on the parents to set up and run.

Independent IFA Guy Skinner of Citygate Consulting explains “The new scheme is of particular benefit to Directors within their own limited company as they can retain the freedom to remunerate themselves predominantly with dividends while still getting benefit from the tax savings for child care, unlike with child care vouchers. Additionally, those already in the child care voucher scheme SHOULDN’T neglect the new scheme, as it may well work out to be more favourable. Review your sums.”


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