With Christmas celebrations rapidly filling diaries and Brexit occupying every square inch of news headlines, you’re not alone if you’re struggling to find time to plan for 2019.

If you’re a small business owner and that sounds all too familiar, there’s no need to panic, but there are some changes on the way in 2019 that you need to be aware of – particularly when it comes to employment law.

National Minimum Wage increase

This year’s Autumn Budget revealed that 2019 will see a 32 pence increase in the National Minimum Wage, bringing it up to £7.70 an hour for those aged 21 to 24. For people aged 18 to 20, it will increase to £6.14 per hour.

What you might not know is that the National Living Wage (the minimum rate at which employers must pay staff over the age of 25) will increase to £8.21 per hour from April next year.

Apprentices will enjoy a slight raise, too, with their minimum pay set to rise to £3.90 an hour.

Sleep-in shift wages

If you employ staff who perform ‘sleep-in’ shifts where they can take time out of long shifts to rest but must be available to work as and when needed (common in the healthcare industry), their wage entitlement might change next year.

At the moment, such employees aren’t entitled to the National Minimum Wage during the time they spend available but not working. In the new year, the Supreme Court is expected to reach a decision on sleep-in shift workers and their pay following a request to appeal the court’s ruling on the matter.

Workplace pension contributions

As it currently stands, employers must contribute a minimum of 2% of pre-tax salary to the worker’s pension fund. The worker can then contribute 3%.

In 2019, this will change, with employees required to pay an additional 2% and employers another 1%.

EU nationals status

At the time of writing, nothing is certain with Brexit, but a key concern has been the suspected change of status for EU nationals once the country leaves the European Union.

It’s important to remember that as things stand now, such individuals can apply for either settled or temporary status. The former can be applied for after five years of living in the UK and means they can continue to do so indefinitely, while the latter enables EU nationals to live and work in the UK until they qualify for settled status.

Gender pay gap reporting

After 4th April next year, any private company that employs more that 250 members of staff will have to disclose its gender pay gap figures.

If companies are unable to prove that they’ve made efforts to close the gender pay gap since their first report, they’ll face significant scrutiny by the authorities.

CEO pay gaps

The gender pay gap isn’t the only subject of pay equality that’s high on the 2019 agenda. We’re also on the verge of a crackdown on CEO pay gaps.

From 2019, any company that employs more than 250 people will need to calculate their wage structures so that they can disclose executive pay gaps by 2020.

The calculations will be based on the average salary of a company CEO versus that of a regular employee.

What’s next?

There’s no doubting that we’re in limbo with certain elements of employment law whilst the Brexit story unfolds, but the above are the most important changes that we’re currently aware of.

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