Happy New Year!

In this latest blog post, we look at the new laws which came into play in 2017 or will be introduced in 2018.

It was good news for many last year, as it was announced the minimum wage will be increased to £7.50 an hour for the over 25s. There will be smaller increases for 18-20 and 21-24 year olds, to £5.60 and £7.05 respectively. This is set to come into effect in April.

From 5 April, firms with at least 250 employees must reveal data about the differences in pay between men and women in their workforce. About half of the UK workforce will be affected by the new rules, which includes 9,000 employers and more than 15 million employees.

However, Iceland is already one step ahead and announced that from 1 January 2018, it will be illegal to pay men more than women.

The rise of these popular gadgets have caused some safety concerns after a number of accidents were reported last year. A new safety test requirement, which reports suggest will see owners having to sit something similar to a driving theory test, should come into law in spring 2018. It could also include a ban on drones flying near airports.

Under draft legislation expected in 2018, people who abuse animals will face up to five years in prison. This comes after a series of cases in which courts said they would have liked to impose tougher sentences if they had the option.

Also at the end of last year, Theresa May announced the sale of puppies without their mother present will be banned in a bid to end the disturbing trade of animals bred in puppy farms.

We touched upon this in a recent blog post as the UK is expected to adopt the EU’s new data protection rules in May. The General Data Protection Regulation enforces tougher punishments for companies failing to adhere to rules on the storage and handling of personal data. More details can be found here.

In March 2017, child car and booster seat regulations changed. It is now illegal to have your child’s car seat fitted incorrectly. Children who are under 12 years old or less than 4ft 5in will be required to travel in a car seat. Children who weigh 22kg or more, or are 4ft 10in tall will be recommended to use backless booster seats.

Once the child is older than 12 or reaches the height guideline, then they are able to travel as normal.

We said goodbye to displaying tax discs in 2015 and now the system has changed again. While CO2 emissions still play a part, only cars that have zero-emissions will be exempt from the annual charge e.g. electric cars. This means that if you buy a new petrol or diesel car, no matter how economical it is, you’ll have to pay road tax.

While the first-year rate will vary based on CO2 emissions, the annual fee is a flat rate of £140, with an extra £310 annual surcharge applying to cars over £40,000 the first five times you tax them.

However, these rates only apply to cars registered from April 2017 onwards and cars already on the road continue under the old system.

This was one of the most talked about laws in 2017 – if you’re caught using your phone whist driving, you are now given a £200 fine and a penalty of six points.

There really are no excuses if you’re caught – you were warned!

The Government has introduced some much needed tougher new laws over the past few years in regards to the sale of tobacco.

It is now mandatory that all cigarette packs must be in dark brown packaging which has been named the “world’s ugliest colour” – with no logos, promotional images or indications of flavour. The packages must also be 65% covered by health warnings, including graphic pictures such as tar-stained lungs.

Packs of 10 and small tobacco pouches have also been banned as a way to discourage the younger generation from getting addicted to the expensive habit.

There has been plenty of new changes brought in with some still yet to take effect. We’ll bring you the latest details through the year.

Here’s to 2018!