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Small businesses that employ staff are often given lenience when it comes to applying employment law. However, there are various changes on the horizon over the coming months which you cannot avoid.

Increase to the National Minimum Wage

From April the National Living Wage (NLW) and National Minimum Wage (NMW) rates are increasing. For workers over the age of 25 years the minimum hourly rate will be £8.21. For workers between 21 and 24 it will be £7.70; 18-20 year olds £6.15 and for under 18s it will be £4.35. The minimum rate for apprentices remains lower at £3.90 per hour.

It should be noted that last year there was a pivotal Court of Appeal decision (Mencap v Tomlinson Blake) regarding NMW and sleep-in shifts (such as for care workers). For now it has been ruled that NMW rules only apply for awake working hours, not simply sleeping in and being available for work. However, there has been a request to appeal this lodged with the Supreme Court which will come this year.

Pension auto-enrolment

Unsurprisingly, from April auto-enrolment minimum contributions (for both employees and employers) will rise. From April employers will need to contribute a minimum of 3% to their employee’s pension pot.


In an attempt to somewhat ensure employees aren’t falling under the radar of the ‘gig economy’, there are new rules concerning how employers issue payslips from the start of the new tax year. From 6th April all ‘workers’ have a right to a payslip. This must include details such as the number of hours worked and details of their wages. For just £3 plus VAT per payslip, we can ensure you stay the right side of the law.

GDPR isn’t going away

GDPR is relevant to your business in many ways, but it most definitely applies in terms of employment management – from recruitment onwards. If you handle personal data for managing recruitment and employment then you need to be GDPR compliant. You could face a fine of up to 4% of your annual turnover if you fail. The ICO is already showing that it is going after small businesses just as much as big ones.

Whilst the law on data protection isn’t actually changing in 2019, what we can expect to see is more enforcement actions against those who haven’t implemented the changes they needed to last year. Employers can also expect to be faced with more Subject Access Requests (SARs) and data protection complaints as candidates and workers become more knowledgeable of their rights.

Gender pay gap reporting

The 4th April 2019 is the date when organisations with over 250 employees must publish their gender pay gap figures. This doesn’t directly impact smaller employers but they do need to be aware that it is representative of a changing landscape which is part of best practice.

This will go hand in hand with tribunal cases against various supermarkets which will issue decisions this year.

Together we can expect to see greater strides towards equal pay in 2019 which should be mirrored in small businesses.

About The Author

Karl Bilby

We work very closely with our expert accountants to bring you the latest factually correct tax and accounting news. We also enjoy writing about small business news that we hope you find useful!

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