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Autumn Statement 2015 - Key Employment Announcements

on Friday, 04 December 2015.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, delivered his Autumn Statement to Parliament on 25 November 2015.

The government has also published its 2015 Spending Review and Autumn Statement which sets out more detail on the government's plans.

We have set out below some key employment announcements included in the Chancellor's 2015 Autumn Statement:

  • Introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy - this will be introduced in April 2017. The levy will be payable by employers at 0.5% of their paybill, and is aimed at creating 3 million new apprenticeships by 2020. The levy will apply to employers across all sectors.
  • Public sector employment - two further consultations on reform in this area were announced: a further cross-public sector consultation on exit payment terms, and a review of sickness absence in public sector workforces (and the reduction in its impact on public service delivery). We will report further on these consultations when they are published in due course.
  • Investment in the courts and tribunals system
    In the Autumn Statement, the government announced its intention to invest 'more than £700 million' in the modernisation and digitalisation of the courts and tribunals system. Moving from a paperbased system towards an online system, these changes aim to generate savings of 'approximately £200 million a year from 2019-20' and to deliver more efficient and 'certain' justice.
  • Sick and disabled employees
    It was noted in the Autumn Statement that the number of disabled people in employment has risen in the last year by 70,000 to over 3.2 million. The government is seeking to increase employment levels amongst those with health conditions and disabilities, and has announced an increase in spending on Access to Work as well as expansion of the Fit for Work service. The government also announced that it will publish a White Paper next year, setting out reforms to improve support for those suffering from health conditions and disabilities.
  • Taxation of employee benefits - plans announced in relation to the taxation of employee benefits will include:
    • A call for evidence in relation to the tax treatment of employer provided living accommodation will be published.
    • Legislation restricting the tax relief for travel and subsistence expenses for workers engaged through an employment intermediary (such as an umbrella company, or personal service companies where the intermediary's legislation applies) will be introduced, effective from 6 April 2016.
    • The tax rules in relation to employee share schemes will be simplified and streamlined to provide more consistency.
    • Further evidence is to be collated by the government on salary sacrifice arrangements to decide what course of action should be taken in response to the growth of such arrangements.

For more information, please contact Michael Halsey in our Employment Law team on 020 7665 0842.

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