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Five Fact Friday - New Year, New Laws

Five Fact Friday - New Year, New Laws

We usher in 2020 with a look at five laws that will (all things being equal) be implemented this year.

According to data collected by Strava, a social network for athletes, this year’s ‘Quitter’s Day’ and the day on which people are most likely to break their new year’s resolutions, is 19th January.  So whether you are attempting Dry January, Veganuary or Janu-hairy it’s time to put off having that drink, burger or shave/wax for a week or so more and check out some of the new legislation that will brought in this year!

1. Drink Less Alcohol

Many people are taking part in Dry January this year, in which they abstain from alcohol for the month.  However, if anybody living in Wales is able to hang on for a bit, this challenge will become easier after 2nd March. 

This is because that is the date that the Welsh Government plan to set new minimum alcohol prices.  It will mean that retailers and bars will have to charge at least 50p for every unit of alcohol.  To put that in context, it will mean a pint of beer or a glass of wine will cost at least £1.15, a small bottle of beer will cost at least 80p, a pint of cider will cost at least £1.30, a glass of champagne will cost at least 75p, a single measure of spirit will cost at least 50p and a bottle of alcopop will cost at least 55p.

2. Save Money

Saving money is apparently the second most common New Year’s resolution with around 49% of people resolving to penny pinch.  The good news for the older savers among us is that the state pension will rise by 3.9% this year.  This equates to an increase of £5.05 per week for those receiving the old state pension, which will bring the total to £134.25 per week. 

In addition, about 2.5 million Universal Credits claimants will see their payments increase by 1.7% this year. 

3. Give More to Others

One well-publicised change that will come into effect this year is in the law surrounding organ-donation in England. 

Up to now, doctors have only been able to preserve organs for donation to others if they have the consent of the person donating or the consent of their family.  This position will flip in the Spring, after which anybody that does not want to be an organ donor will have to carry a card to that effect.  So the assumption will be in most cases that anybody without an opt-out card is consenting to be an organ donor. 

Children, adults that lack mental capacity to make an informed choice about their organs, people visiting England and people that have been living in England for less than one year are all excluded from this change.

4. Travel More

Travelling more is apparently in the top 10 most common New Year’s resolutions (coming in at 9th). 

It goes without saying that, if you are planning on visiting an EU country in the next 12 months, it is worth keeping abreast of any changes in the law that may affect entry to those countries and travelling within them.  In particular, some European countries require non-EU drivers to obtain an international permit and a motor insurance green card before they can hit their roads. The Government has confirmed that the default position is that UK licenses will no longer be valid in the EU.  This may change if it forms part of any deal with the EU, which must be struck by the end of this year. 

In addition, if you’re planning a ‘staycation’, don’t forget that UK rail fares rose by 2.7% on 2nd January.

5. Reduce Stress

Reducing stress is apparently in the top five most common New Year’s resolutions. Business owners and HR managers can achieve this by making sure they are prepared for some of the changes coming their way this year. 

On 6th April, legislation will be introduced to ensure that UK contractors that work through an intermediary pay the same tax and make the same National Insurance contributions as an equivalent employee. 

On the same day, the law surrounding written statements (the statement that an employer must give to every employee which sets out their employment terms) will also change so as to apply to all ‘workers’ i.e. not just ‘employees’.  The statement will also need to be given on or before the first day of employment (currently it must be given within 2 months of the start of employment) and must include additional information such as the hours and days of the week that the worker or employee is required to work, whether those days can be varied and how they can be varied, entitlements to any paid leave, details of any probationary period and details of training that will be provided.

There will also be a change regarding:-

  1. how holiday pay is calculated - the ‘pay-reference period’ increases from 12 weeks to 52 weeks;
  2. tax rules - an increase in Personal Allowance to £12,500, an increase in National Minimum Wage, a drop in the corporation tax rate to 17%, a drop in business rates for companies with a rateable value of £51,000 or less and an increase in benefit in kind tax rates for company cars;
  3. agency workers – will be entitled to equal pay to directly employed workers after 12 weeks, and;
  4. parental bereavement – bereaved parents will be entitled to two weeks of leave following the loss of a child under the age of 18 or a stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy.

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