2016 has seen a number of new laws introduced by the government, and whilst some were widely reported, others feel conspicuous by their absence in the media. Here are four which could have a major impact on how both you and the British public in general live day to day:
- Immigration rules for working people have got stricter – From April this year, if you come from outside the EU and you’ve been working in Britain for over five years, the law now states that you must be earning at least £35,000 per annum – considerably higher than the average national yearly wage of £22,000. If you aren’t, it’s possible that you’ll be deported back to your native country. The implications of this could be severe, especially in professions employing a high number of immigrants earning under the £35,000 benchmark. The Royal College of Nursing has suggested that around 3,500 nurses may be forced to leave the UK under the new law, which could have a significant impact on the NHS.
- The minimum wage has gone up – If you have employees or family members who are over 25, the minimum hourly wage they can earn is now £7.20. Whilst it’s one step towards the goal of a £9 per hour minimum wage by 2020, this still falls short of the Living Wage Foundations estimate of £8.25 per hour to be able to live in the UK.
- Gender pay gaps are legally required to be disclosed by employers – The average pay gap between men and women is still almost 20%, rising to nearly 40% in part time employees. Prior to the new law, pay gap disclosure was voluntary unless an accusation of pay discrimination due to sexism was brought against an employer in a court of law. Now, every employer must disclose this information. There’s a campaign to force these details to be shared directly with both employees and trade unions to ensure companies can’t bury the figures in less visible reports.
- State pensions are now single-tiered – Before 2016, pensions were paid at a weekly rate of £115.95 with secondary and additional pensions allowing the basic rate to be topped up. April saw the introduction of a new, flat-rate pension paid at £155.65 per week. However, statistical analysis suggests most people will be worse off under the new system. Although this has been refuted by those in power, even the government projected that one in four would lose out when the changes came into effect. Make sure you check what you will actually receive under the new single-tier system!