The much trumpeted new minimum wage for workers over 25 will be £7.20 per hour from 1 April 2016. The levels for younger workers remain as they were from October 2015: £6.70 for 21 and over; £5.30 for 18 to 20; and £3.87 for under 18 year olds. The apprentice rate is £3.30 for 16-18 and anyone over 19 in their first year. Older apprentices are entitled to the minimum for their age group.
Penalties for companies who are found not to be paying the minimum wage are to be doubled to 200% of the total underpayment up to a maximum payment of £20,000 per underpaid worker. Companies that produce false records or refuse to answer questions from a compliance officer may be criminally prosecuted by the Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office. The potential penalty on conviction is an unlimited fine.
Rates for statutory sick pay, adoption, maternity, paternity or shared parental pay rates remain the same.
The new single-tier state pension will be introduced from 6 April 2016. Employer-provided pension schemes will no longer be able to contract out of the state pension and receive a national insurance (NI) rebate. In such cases, the NI contributions from both employer and employee will increase. Also, employers will no longer pay employer national insurance contributions for apprentices under 25.
Employers can sponsor skilled foreign workers to come to the UK under tier 2 of the immigration points system. From 6 April 2016 there is a new requirement for such workers to be on a minimum salary of £35,000.