18 Mar 2022
The National Minimum and the National Living Wage increase on April 1st 2022. It's a statutory legal requirement to raise pay rates, and if you're an employer, you need to be aware of the rise and the bands relating to age and employee status. <br><br> There are two important dates employers need to be aware of in April relating to pay. On April 1st, the national minimum wage rises in the UK, and on April 11th, statutory rate payments will also increase.
The National Minimum Wage is the minimum per hour rate most workers (23 and above) will be legally entitled to, currently at £8.91. As of April 1st 2022, it will rise to £9.50, representing an increase of 6.6%, or 59p, a significant step closer to the Government's 2024 target of two-thirds of median earnings, estimated at £10.50 an hour.
The National Minimum Wage was a flagship manifesto commitment of the Labour party during their successful 1997 general election, becoming law in 1999. The policy sets out a rise every few years, in line with increased living costs (inflation) and ensures all workers are paid a reasonable minimum hourly rate dependent on age and status.
Understanding the difference between the National Minimum Wage, the National Living Wage, and the Living Wage is essential for any small business owner with employees. The penalty for failing to pay your employees correctly can be substantial.
To help with any uncertainty, we'll take a look at these terms and explain what they mean:
The National Minimum Wage (NMW) is dependent on a worker's age and status, i.e. whether or not they're an apprentice. Set annually by the Government, in consultation with the Low Pay Commission (LPC)- an independent body made up of employers, trade unions, and other experts.
The NMW applies to every worker over school age (16 and above), whether permanent, temporary or seasonal. There are, however, a few exceptions where the National Minimum Wage doesn't apply:
Those who are Self-employed people and running their own business
Limited company directors
Family members of the employer living in the employer's home
The National Living Wage (NLW) was introduced in the 2015 Summer Budget 2015 by then-Chancellor George Osborne, becoming law on April 1st 2016.
Confusingly, the NLW was simply a 'rebrand' of the NMW and not linked to cost of living. To receive the National Living Wage, you must be 23 or over and not be in the first year of an apprenticeship. Presently standing at £8.91 per hour, this will increase to £9.50 from April 1st.
Not to be confused with the National Living Wage introduced by the Conservatives in 2016 (see above). The Living Wage, sometimes referred to as the 'Real' Living Wage, is an hourly rate calculated by the Living Wage Foundation - a charitable organisation; with no legal grounding - based on the basic cost of living in the UK.
The Living Wage is set at a recommended £9.90 per hour for the UK and £11.05 for London. The NLW calculated by the Government is based on a proportion of the median level of earnings. In contrast, the Living Wage is calculated independently of Government, based instead on how much an employee needs to earn to meet the essential cost of living, such as rent, food, and energy bills.
According to the Living Wage Foundation, the benefit of paying workers a Living Wage is increased employee retention, decreased absenteeism, and enhanced quality of work.
Employers must increase their pay rates from April 1st, being a criminal offence to avoid paying employees either the National Minimum Wage or the National Living Wage later than April. Failure to pay could result in a significant fine from HMRC (up to 200% of the underpayments) and repaying employees any outstanding sum.
Chancellor Sunak stated that the increase in the NMW and NLW will ensure the UK is "making work pay and keeps us on track to meet our target to end low pay". Since the increase in NMW has a corresponding effect on National Insurance contributions, income tax contributions and pension scheme contributions, many small businesses could find the requirement challenging.
Examine your cash flow and review all money coming in and out of your business. Plan your spending to be aware of upcoming expenses by creating a cash flow forecast, where you can work out what funds you need over the next few months.
If your business needs increased working capital, cutting costs and reducing overheads is the obvious solution. However, you should carefully consider where and how to make these cuts to endure you're not adversely affecting long term viability.
You could perform a common-sense forensic audit on every aspect of your business. Here are four suggestions to consider:
Can you cut non-essential spending?
Could you move to a cheaper location?
Can suppliers reduce their costs?
Can you reduce staff hours while still maintaining profitability?
It could be worth taking short-term funding or other alternative finance measures to cope with the NMW increase. Be sure that you fully understand the repayment structure, perhaps using a cash flow forecast to ensure the numbers crunch in your favour.
If the pandemic has adversely affected your business, The Recovery Loan Scheme could be an option for you. Running until June 30th 2022, the scheme enables businesses to take out loans of up to £2 million, with the Government backing 70% of the cost to the lender.
Amendments to statutory payments will also come into effect in April. These signify imminent increases to statutory redundancy pay and statutory maternity pay.
Employees are typically entitled to statutory redundancy pay if they've been employed and working for you for two years or more. The benefit requires employers to use the employee's weekly pay amount. Currently capped at £544, the amount is revised yearly in line with inflation, increasing to £577 come April.
When an employee is on maternity, paternity or shared parental leave, the first six weeks of Statutory Pay (SMP) is 90% of their weekly earnings. For the next 33 weeks, it is either continued at 90% or paid at the flat SMP rate, whichever is the lower amount.
In April, the rate will increase from £151.97 to £156.66. Employers can reclaim 92% of employees' Statutory Maternity, Paternity, Adoption, Parental Bereavement, and Shared Parental Pay directly from the Government.
When employees are on sickness absence for four or more consecutive days, they're entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), which can last up to 28 weeks if any single period of sickness renders them incapable of working.
The rate of SSP will rise in April 2022 from £96.35 to £99.35.
Keeping up to date with the rises in statutory rates can be time-consuming and complicated for many employers. However, not paying rates can be significant, so it's critical to ensure that all correct procedures get followed.
At Funding Options, we specialise in helping SMEs with these complex matters. Start an application today, and one of our business finance specialists will be in touch to walk you through your options.See your Funding Options
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