UK Government to crack down on ‘fire and rehire’ practices
The government is taking action against unscrupulous employers that use the controversial practice of ‘fire and rehire’, it has announced.
Last year P&O Ferries sought to evade the law by sacking 786 seafarers without due consultation. Having made no efforts to inform the Business Secretary at the time, they failed to follow best practice or do the right thing for their employees. As a result, the transport Secretary introduced a 9-point plan including primary legislation to tackle these issues.
Through a planned statutory code of practice, the government is protecting employees and cracking down on employers that use controversial dismissal tactics. The code, subject to a consultation first, will make it explicitly clear to employers that they must not use threats of dismissal to pressurise employees into accepting new terms, and that they should have honest and open-minded discussions with their employees and representatives.
‘Fire and rehire’ refers to when an employer fires an employee and offers them a new contract on new, often less-favourable terms. The government has been clear
on its opposition to this practice being used as a negotiating tactic and is now making it clear how it expects employers to behave.
This new statutory code of practice will set out employers’ responsibilities when seeking to change contractual terms and conditions of employment, including that businesses must consult with employees in a fair and transparent way when proposing changes to their employment terms.
Once in force, Courts and Employment Tribunals will be able to take the code into account when considering relevant cases, including unfair dismissal. They will have the power to apply a 25% uplift to an employee’s compensation in certain circumstances if an employer is found to not comply with the statutory code. See: Government cracks down on ‘fire and rehire’ practices – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Minimum wage rates increase from 1 April 2023
Employers should be aware that all minimum wage rates increase on 1 April of each year. This includes all National Minimum Wage rates and the National Living Wage rate.
See the table below that shows the current minimum wage rates and new rates from April 2023:
Current rate (since April 2022) New rate from April 2023 Increase
National Living Wage (23
years old and over) £9.50 £10.42 9.7%
National Minimum Wage adult
rate (21-22 years old) £9.18 £10.18 10.9%
National Minimum Wage (18-
20 years old) £6.83 £7.49 9.7%
National Minimum Wage (16-
17 years old) £4.81 £5.28 9.8%
National Minimum Wage
(apprentice rate) £4.81 £5.28 9.8%
Accommodation Offset £8.70 £9.10 4.6%
See: National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage rates – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
HMRC is testing an automated SMS system
A new trial system aims to identify taxpayers seeking help with specific queries which HMRC considers can be resolved online. Such callers will be sent a text message containing relevant links.
Callers to HMRC’s income tax helplines from a mobile phone will be dealt with in one of the following three ways:
- Callers with queries about their UTR or registering for online services will be sent an SMS that matches the key words they used to describe their query. The call will be automatically disconnected after a message explaining that an SMS has been sent.
- Callers with queries about whether they should register for self assessment or whether they should still complete a tax return, and those with requests for their income and employment history, will be offered the option of receiving an SMS or continuing to hold for an adviser.
- Callers who wish to know their National Insurance number or need help with filling in their tax return will be sent an SMS and given time to engage with it before deciding whether to terminate the call themselves or opt to continue to hold and be routed to an adviser.
The trial runs until the end of this financial year. See: New SMS service launched on HMRC helplines | The Association of Taxation Technicians (att.org.uk)
Selling online and paying taxes
If you regularly sell goods or services through an online marketplace, you could be classed as a ‘trader’.
And if you earn more than £1,000 before deducting expenses through your trading, you will need to pay Income Tax on this.
For tax, an online marketplace is any website or mobile phone app that handles and enables the sale of goods and services from individuals and/or businesses to customers. If you only sell items occasionally, you can check if you need to tell HMRC about this income.
If you’ve never declared income through a Self-Assessment tax return, you can register for HMRC Online Services.
Please talk to us if you need any advice in this area.
Business Charity Awards 2023
The Business Charity Awards provide the perfect platform to reflect on your efforts, share best practice and reward your achievements within the community.
The Awards recognise the outstanding contribution made by UK businesses to good causes. The awards not only recognise the role that individuals, teams and entire
companies play in supporting charitable activity both at home and abroad, but also help to educate the wider business community about the best ways to support good causes.
Charities may enter on behalf of their corporate partners and joint entries from companies and their corporate foundations will also be accepted for their work with charity partners.
The awards are open to companies of all sizes and across all industries.
The deadline for entries 23 February 2023. See: Home – Business Charity Awards