Some regulation changes you will be required to act upon, others may affect the way you run your practice or certain policies that you currently maintain; in which case you may need to review.
Flexible working hours
From 6 April, the right to request flexible working will be extended from employees who have children aged under 17 or disabled children under 18, to all employees with children under 18.
Parents can ask for a change in the times or the number of hours they work, or for home working. You can only refuse requests for business reasons – for example, if the flexible work proposed would create additional costs or affect your ability to meet customer needs.
Increase in employee sick pay
April will see a rise in maternity, paternity and adoption pay, as well as sick pay rates. They will increase as follows:
• From 3 April, statutory maternity, paternity and adoption pay increases from £124.88 a week, or 90% of normal weekly earnings if lower, to £128.73. Additional paternity leave may be paid if it is taken within the mother’s statutory maternity leave period
• From 6 April, statutory sick pay – for employees earning more than £102 per week – will increase from £79.15 to £81.60 a week.
Fathers of babies born on or after 3 April 2011 will have the right to take up to 26 weeks’ additional paternity leave on top of the two weeks’ ‘ordinary paternity leave’, if the mother returns to work before the end of her maternity leave.
Equality Act – positive action for recruitment
The Equality Act states that, after 6 April, you can exercise positive discrimination where a particular group is under-represented in your firm and other candidates are equally qualified. You can favour candidates on grounds of age, disability, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation.
Currently, you can compel employees to leave at 65, and you must let them know their expected retirement date in writing between 6-12 months before their 65th birthday.
Under the changes, the last day employees can be compulsorily retired is 30 September 2011, so bear in mind that the latest you can give them the required notice is 30 March.
For example, if you employ an older person for practice cleaning, please bear in mind that after these dates you will not be able to remove them from the post based on their age!
Please note that employees earning more than £35,000 will pay the higher tax rate of 40% from April. However, employees personal allowance for income tax will increase from £6,475 to £7,475 – unless a higher rate taxpayer, in which case it remains the same.
Tax rates… some good news!
A decrease in corporation tax and small business rates. From 1 April, corporation tax will decrease from 28% to 26% with a continued planned decrease to 23% by 2014 (may be something for principals to consider), and the small business rate will decrease from 21 to 20%.
• All details correct at time of going to press