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2017/2018 statutory maternity & sick pay
New rates on maternity pay, paternity pay, shared parental pay, adoption pay and sick pay will be effective from April 2017.

The current weekly rate of statutory maternity pay is £139.58, or 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings if this figure is less than the statutory rate. The rate of statutory maternity pay is rising to £140.98 from April 2017. The increase normally occurs on the first Sunday in April, which in 2017 is 2 April.

Also on 2 April 2017, the rates of statutory paternity pay and statutory shared parental pay will to go up from £139.58 to £140.98 (or 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings if this figure is less than the statutory rate).

The rate of statutory adoption pay increases from £139.58 to £140.98. This means that, from 2 April 2017, statutory adoption pay is payable at 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings for the first six weeks, with the remainder of the adoption pay period at the rate of £140.98, or 90% of average weekly earnings if this is less than £140.98.

The rates normally increase each April in line with the consumer price index (CPI). A 0.1% fall in the CPI in the year to September 2015 meant that there was no increase to the rates in April 2016. This means that the rates have been frozen since 5 April 2015.

However, the CPI has increased by 1% in the year to September 2016, which is reflected in the rates for 2017/18.
“Their publication well in advance of April 2017 will help employers to plan their budgets for 2017/18, and to prepare amendments to their policies and documents on family-friendly benefits for April 2017.”

The rate of statutory sick pay is also increasing from £88.45 to £89.35. This increase is expected to occur on 6 April 2017. To be entitled to these statutory payments, the employee’s average earnings must be equal to or more than the lower earnings limit. The lower earnings limit is increasing from £112 to £113 in April 2017

Source: Personneltoday.com

Salary Sacrifice on Certain Benefits
Changes coming into effect in April 2017 mean only a limited number of benefits will continue to benefit from tax & NIC’s relief if provided through a salary sacrifice arrangement. These are:

• Enhanced employer pension contributions to registered pension schemes (and pension’s advice).
• Childcare benefits (employer-supported childcare and provision of workplace nurseries).
• Cycles and cyclists’ safety equipment provided under the cycle to work scheme.
• Ultra-low emission cars.
• Existing arrangements will be protected until April 2018 (or April 2021 for cars, accommodation and school fees).

Subsequently, a significant number of employees will lose tax relief attached to employee benefits including health checks, gym memberships & mobile phone agreements.

Jury Service
In other HR news, the maximum age for Jury service will be raised from 70 to 75 years old, with the Government saying for the first time it will draw on the “life experience” of pensioners over 70.