These are pivotal months for employees with many important changes in law and rules that with affect those in the labour market and those who work within HR and personnel departments.
The biggest shake-up in pension reform is the auto-enrolment scheme that came into practice for the largest UK companies from October 2012, smaller companies will be obliged to join over the next five years. To fight the ever growing problem of providing for a quality pension for the nation, the proposal aims to see those who choose to opt in, contribute to the Government backed plan, run through the Pension Advisory Service, made up from both the employee and employer.
Gradually when the scheme comes into its complete phase in 2018, the employee will be required to provide 8% of earnings in total however a minimum 3% must be chipped in by the employer, more generous employers are hoped to contribute larger percentages.
For those who choose not to take advantage of the scheme they must confirm in writing that they are opting out.
Employees over the age of 21 hourly rate rise from £6.08 to £6.19.
The rate for 16 and 17-year-olds remains the same at £3.68 an hour.
18 to 20-year-olds, there is no change at £4.98 an hour.
The Government has extended the length of service required for an employee to bring an unfair dismissal claim from one year to two years. This adjustment was made in April 2012 but its effects are only just becoming clear now.
The initiative is expected to reduce the amount of unnecessary claims while encouraging businesses to hire more staff more frequently.
Recent Minister talks have agreed a trial run of the Universal Credit set to begin at the new financial year, April 2013. It will see one payment brought in to replace all the following separate existing payments:
– Income related ESA
– Income related jobseeker’s allowance (JSA)
– Income support
– Working tax credits
– Child tax credits
– Housing benefit
Health and Safety
In a bid to cut down on red tape and Health and safety costs to smaller businesses, changes are afoot.
The move is expected to remove the ’Health and safety monster’ as expressed by David Cameron and cut down on paperwork recording work related absences due to industrial diseases.
In real terms this probably means a reduced amount of qualified inspectors and trained Health and Safety officers present in risk job environments and larger companies as well.