We have rounded up some of the key HR / business deadlines and dates you need to be aware of in 2021.

1 January: New immigration system for hiring staff outside of the UK

From 1 January 2021 a new points-based immigration system was introduced  following the Brexit transition. This means that EEA nationals working in the UK need to comply with new visa regulations. Employers now need to apply for a sponsor licence in order to recruit staff from overseas.

Key points to be aware of:

  • EU nationals already in the UK at the end of the transition period will have a grace period until 30 June 2021 to apply under the new scheme.
  • Employers will need to understand the rules on right to work checks.

Read our full guide to the new scheme and our guidance on how to apply for a sponsor licence.

31 March: CIBILS deadline

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CIBILS) helps small and medium-sized businesses to access loans and other kinds of finance up to £5 million. The government guarantees 80% of the finance to the lender and pays interest and any fees for the first 12 months.

The scheme is open until 31 March 2021. Find out more here.

1 April: National Minimum Wage increase

The National Living Wage will increase by 2.2 per cent from £8.72 to £8.91, and will be extended to 23 and 24 year olds for the first time.

National minimum wage: April 2021 increases by age

Key points:

  • Be aware of announcements and changes to the wage levels for your payroll.

1 April: small employer apprenticeship cap resets 

The cap on apprenticeship starts for small employers will be reset to zero from 1 April. This means that any non-levy paying business can start up to 10 new apprentices from 1 April 2021 regardless of the number they currently employ.

6 April – IR35 and the private sector

Having been delayed for a year, the reforms to IR35 and the private sector are due into force in April. The new rules will stipulate that the organisation employing a contractor is responsible for assessing their status and whether the IR35 rules apply. If the rules do apply then the business will be classed as their employer for tax and NI.

The rules are driven by HMRC and aims to curb tax avoidance. It aims to identify those freelance contractors who have full time positions within a business and therefore are essentially employees.

Small businesses meeting the criteria won’t be eligible at present.

Key points:

  • Conduct an audit of your contractors – determine hours and roles and whether they would be deemed as employees were it not for their job title.
  • Prepare an SDS Statement – this follows an IR35 assessment and declares the contractor’s employment status for tax purposes.

Read our small business guide to IR35 or see the full government guidance.

30 September: end of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)

Otherwise known as the furlough scheme, the CJRS covers 80% of employees’ wages (at a cap of £2,500 per month). Employers can furlough any staff even if they haven’t previously been furloughed, or joined the scheme. We expect a review in January from the government on contributions from employers.

July August September
Government contribution: wages for hours not worked 70% up to £2,187.50 60% up to £1,875 60% up to £1,875
Employer contribution: employer National Insurance contributions and pension contributions Yes Yes Yes
Employer contribution wages for hours not worked 10% up to £312.50 20% up to £625 20% up to £625
For hours not worked employee receives 80% up to £2,500 per month 80% up to £2,500 per month 80% up to £2,500 per month

Key points:

  • If you’re furloughing employees be sure to get written agreement and keep this on file for six years.
  • Plan ahead for September 2021 and whether you will be able to bring staff back from furlough or plan for redundancies.
  • Factor in possible increased contributions you may have to make if the government announce any changes to the scheme.
  • The last claim for September is 14th October 2021.

Although not confirmed, other employment law changes to look out for this year include:

  • Modern slavery statements – it is expected to become mandatory for business to report on modern slavery. No rules have yet come into force.
  • Legislation which will prevent employers from taking tips and gratuities, instead ensuring that they go to staff.
  • Changes to the rules around continuous service. It is expected that the time required to break a period of continuous service could extend from one week to four weeks. This was part of the Good Work plan to protect employees and their rights.
  • Right to request more predictable and stable working patterns after 26 weeks continuous service. This is aimed at those on irregular hours (such as zero-hour contracts) who would like more stability around their working pattern.
  • Redundancy protection for pregnant staff or new parents could be extended.

For help with any of the changes above please contact our team for advice