This April heralds some important national changes for businesses and also brings news and views for employers to help manage their workforce more efficiently.

Apprenticeship levy introduced

Businesses need to stay on top of their payroll bill to know whether they need to pay a new government levy.

If your business has an annual pay bill of more than £3m, then from 6 April 2017 a levy of 0.5% of an employer’s pay bill has been introduced on large employers. This new government initiative is intended to fund 3 million additional apprenticeships over the next five years. In return, each employer will receive £15,000 to offset against their levy payment.

Employers need to ensure they have accurate and efficient payroll records. Most will find that using an automated time and attendance system means that the necessary data can be generated reliably and quickly. It also means that new apprentices can easily be added to your employee management system.

Be prepared for the increased National Living Wage

Another payroll change at the national level was introduced for those aged 25 and over. From 1 April 2017 employees on the national living wage saw the statutory rate increase from £7.20 to £7.50 per hour.

It’s important for businesses to be aware of this change to project their salary costs accurately and to be sure of paying their employees the correct wage.

This will affect some businesses more than others – sectors with workers in low-paid jobs such as cleaning, hospitality and care will want to consider the financial impact on their business.

New guidance on long-term sick leave – impact on employers

Businesses grappling with long-term staff absences were given some new guidance recently.

It is often onerous for managers to decide how to deal with the long-term sickness of an employee. The most problematic part can be deciding when and whether you can dismiss them after a long period away from work. Now, following the recent appeal case of O’Brien v Bolton St Catherine’s Academy, a Court of Appeal has ruled in favour of the employer arguing that the original tribunal had gone too far in expecting the employer to cope with the employee’s absence any longer.

In the Court’s new advice for ‘borderline cases,’ a tribunal should expect from employers “some evidence of the disruption to the business.” This serves as an important reminder for businesses to keep an accurate record of the work and sickness records of their employees.

Staff retention: offer of perks can appeal to leavers

Trained and valued workers wanting to quit their job can be persuaded to stay by certain perks. This was the finding of the Loyalty Premium Report 2017, which surveyed 1,002 UK employees.

The research found that 91% of the employees surveyed would reconsider quitting if their company offered inducements such as flexible working, promotions or salary increases.

Although it may seem obvious, the survey is a useful reminder to hard-pressed managers to think flexibly when it comes to retaining good staff. It’s not always about the money when workers increasingly value a work-life balance. Managing staff on flexible contracts needn’t be a problem either if you have the support of good workforce management software.

Older workers want to stay working but with a better work-life balance

New research by Ashridge has found that ‘baby boomers’, or those born before 1966, don’t want to fall off a cliff edge into retirement but would prefer a smoother planned phase before finally leaving work.

Older workers would especially welcome some flexible working giving them a greater work-life balance before finally giving up work. Businesses that are able to accommodate them would benefit too by retaining trained staff and having fewer vacancies to deal with. It’s time for managers to be pro-active and review their staff data to come up with options to retain older skilled employees.

Chronologic has developed practical HR management software to help businesses become more efficient. This provides a comprehensive solution for absence management, time and attendance, holidays and more.

For more information about our solutions and products call 01761 410015 or email