Small business owners are being urged to be aware of new legislation which came into effect on April 6.
This ’common commencement date’ saw a raft of important changes to the law, including increases in statutory sick pay, changes in tax rates and the end of most employers’ abilities to forcibly retire staff.

However, the Forum of Private Businessis concerned that many small firms may be completely unaware of the changes - and could face prosecution as a result.

The key legislative changes which the FPB says business owners need to be aware of are:

An increase in statutory sick pay, taking the weekly amount employers have to pay staff on sick leave from £79.15 to £81.60.
Alterations to the way National Insurance is calculated and the rates at which it is paid – employers will need to look at this in more detail.
The effective ending of an employer’s ability to issue six-month notifications of retirement using the statutory retirement procedure. The law still gives provision for some businesses to have a set retirement age but only if they can justify it objectively – generally only on health and safety grounds.
The creation of an employers’ right to use positive discrimination as a tie-breaker when making decisions on recruitment and promotion.

Forum chief executive Phil Orford said: “When you’re busy running your own business, keeping abreast of the latest tweaks to the complex regulatory system can seem like the least of your worries.

“However, any instances of a business failing to comply with a piece of legislation can have serious financial consequences, no matter how unintended or trivial the breach is. As a result, I would urge all business owners to familiarise themselves with changes to the law and seek professional advice if they are unsure what they need to do to comply.”