March is always one of the busiest months for employers, with the regular round of April employment law changes fast approaching. Here, XpertHR senior employment law editor Stephen Simpson explains why 1 April 2012 is an important date for employers and why they should be getting ready now for pensions auto-enrolment.
1. Prepare for pensions auto-enrolment and review the number of people in your PAYE scheme in advance of 1 April 2012, which will determine when your auto-enrolment obligations begin.
Legislation is being phased in from 1 October 2012 (which is the first staging date for the largest employers) requiring employers to enrol eligible jobholders automatically and make mandatory employer contributions to a qualifying workplace pension scheme.
The staging date for each employer is based on the number of people in its PAYE scheme on 1 April 2012, making this an important date for employers preparing for auto-enrolment.
It is important for employers to note that, even if the number of people in their PAYE scheme changes between 1 April 2012 and their staging date, the staging date stays the same, even if the change is significant.
In March 2012, employers should check how many people they have in their PAYE scheme, so that they can ascertain their staging date and begin planning for pensions auto-enrolment.
- What changes to workplace pension law will be made by the legislation on auto-enrolment?
- When does auto-enrolment come into force?
- How do employers know what their auto-enrolment staging date is?
- What is the relevance for employers of 1 April 2012 in relation to auto-enrolment?
- Will auto-enrolment affect small employers?
- Pension auto-enrolment – staging dates
- Pension auto-enrolment – categories of worker
2. Ensure that payroll systems and policies and procedures are updated to reflect the increase in statutory maternity, paternity and adoption pay, and statutory sick pay, as well as national insurance and income tax rates.
Employers need to prepare for the annual increase in statutory maternity, paternity and adoption pay. The rates increase from £128.73 to £135.45 per week from 1 April 2012.
The standard rate of statutory sick pay increases from £81.60 to £85.85 per week on 6 April 2012.
Employers should also prepare their payroll systems for changes to national insurance and income tax rates and thresholds for 2012/13, which come into force on 6 April 2012.
Employers may also wish to highlight 21 March in their diaries, when Chancellor George Osborne is delivering the 2012 Budget. He may announce, among other things, the rates of the national minimum wage that will apply from 1 October 2012.
- How is statutory maternity pay calculated?
- Does an employer have any duty to provide itemisation of an employee’s pay?
- Is statutory maternity pay subject to tax and national insurance?
- What are the duties of the employer under the PAYE system?
- Statutory adoption pay
- Statutory maternity pay
- Ordinary statutory paternity pay
- Additional statutory paternity pay
- Statutory sick pay
- Budget 2012: Osborne to deliver Budget 2012 on Wednesday 21 March 2012
- National minimum wage 2012/13: Rates for younger workers “most likely to be frozen”, says Telegraph
3. Prepare to answer questions from the workforce on the April bank holidays
Employers always face questions from staff about their bank holiday entitlement and may encounter issues from particular individuals or groups, for example part-time workers or employees who are not entitled to take time off on bank holidays under their contract of employment.
The bank holidays in April are 6 April (Good Friday) and 9 April (Easter Monday), and the May bank holiday is on 7 May. There is an additional bank holiday in Northern Ireland on 19 March to celebrate St Patrick’s Day, which falls on Saturday 17 March.
- Can bank holidays be included in a worker’s statutory leave entitlement?
- Can employees be required to work on bank holidays?
- Are employees who are required to work on bank holidays entitled to pay in lieu of time off, or additional holiday?
- Are part-time workers entitled to bank holidays?
- How should an employer deal with an employee who refuses to work on a bank holiday?
- How should an employer deal with an employee who calls in sick on a bank holiday?
- Bank and public holidays 2012 (England and Wales)
- Bank and public holidays 2012 (Northern Ireland)
- Statutory bank holidays 2012 (Scotland)