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Autumn Statement: round-up for employers

On 22 November 2023, the Chancellor of the Exchequer made several announcements affecting employers in his Autumn Statement, which are summarised below.

National Minimum Wage

The following increases to the national minimum wage will apply from 1 April 2024:

  • National Living Wage (‘NLW’) (21 and over): £11.44 (up from £10.42 for 23 and over).
  • 18 – 20 year old rate: £8.60 (up from £7.49).
  • 16 – 17 year old rate: £6.40 (up from £5.28)
  • Apprentice rate: £6.40 (up from £5.28)

National Insurance Contributions (NICs)

Employee class 1 NICs will reduce from 12% to 10% from 6 January 2024. 

Immigration

  • Increase to minimum salary threshold for sponsored visas

Due to the changes to the NLW, employers of sponsored workers over the age of 21 will need to pay them an hourly rate of at least £11.44, rather than the current minimum of £10.75 as set out in the Immigration Rules. This equates to a minimum annual salary of £22,308 for a 37.5 hour working week.

  • Business visitors

The business visitor regime is set to be expanded, with wider coverage for the legal services sector and simplified arrangements for those undertaking paid engagements.

  • Youth Mobility Scheme

The government expects to expand new and existing Youth Mobility Schemes in 2024.

Back to Work Plan

There are 2.6 million people who are economically inactive due to long-term health conditions or disability.  The Back to Work Plan is a package of measures intended to assist over a million people with health conditions to start and stay in work.

  • Fit notes

The government is exploring reform of the fit note process so that increased numbers of people can return to work after a period of ill health.

  • Occupational health (OH)

The government will work with employers to prevent their employees becoming economically inactive due to ill health. Following the government’s response to the recent consultation into occupational health, it will establish an expert group to advise on a new voluntary OH framework.

  • Mental health

The number of people who are economically inactive due to mental health issues increased by over 35% between 2019 and 2023. The government is increasing funding for the employment support service within community mental health teams which assists those with mental health issues with starting and staying in employment.

  • Mandatory work placements

Mandatory work placements will be introduced for certain individuals in England and Wales who are still unemployed after receiving 18 months of specialised employment support.

Apprenticeships

The government announced a two-year pilot to explore ways of promoting apprenticeships in key growth sectors, such as engineering, manufacturing, green industries, artificial intelligence and life sciences.

If you have any queries in relation to the above changes, please contact a member of the AfterAthena team.