Posted on: 15 January 2019

New changes that may affect your work

As we say goodbye to 2018 and usher in the New Year, there are some new changes to legislation that you will need to take notice of as a freelance business owner, however this is by no means an exhaustive list

What are the new laws and regulations?

Driving laws

2019 will introduce a law to protect cyclists from overtaking cars. Research shows that in 2017, road traffic accidents in the UK took the lives of 101 cyclists, and because of this, the Highway Code has received an update to better protect cyclists. Drivers will now have to leave 1.5 metres, roughly a doors’ width, between the car and the cyclist when overtaking, which will give the cyclist a sense of security.

Smart motorways have been introduced widely around the country in the last few years, but the government are now considering introducing fines for drivers who use the lanes that have been designated as closed. Motorists who use the wrong lanes are not yet being punished due to the uncertainty of using the new system, however it is thought that a £100 fine may be introduced.

Whether you drive a car or use a bicycle for your freelance activity, make sure that you are aware of your rights and legal obligations as a road user.

National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage

When the new tax year starts in April 2019, the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage will increase. The living wage, mainly for people over the age of 25, will rise from £7.83 to £8.21, whilst the minimum wage for people aged 21 to 24 will rise from £7.38 to £7.70.

New tax limit

Also starting in the new tax year is an increase on the threshold for personal income tax. Currently at £11,850 a year before you need to start paying tax, this figure will rise to £12,500 in April 2019. The higher tax bracket, set at 40% of your income, will see a huge increase, from £34,501 to £50,000.

State and Work Pensions

The independent consumer body Which? has reported that basic state pension will rise from £125.95 to £129.20 per week, which in turn means an extra £3.25 per week. However, a full new single tier state pension will mean that those eligible will receive a £4.25 per week increase to take their pension from £164.35 to £168.60.

The minimum contributions you and your staff pay into your automatic enrolment workplace pension scheme will increase from 6 April 2019. Currently, if your staff pay 3% of their salary into their pension, you as an employer will need to contribute a minimum of 2%, however under the new rules, these rates increase to 5% for the employee and 3% for the employer.

Payslips

The new tax year will also introduce a new right for freelancers to request a payslip. The new rules for 2019 outline that employers must provide a payslip on request which includes the total number of hours worked. A payslip must be provided to the worker, regardless of whether they are full time, part time, freelance or a contractor.

Diesel vehicle tax

It was long thought that diesel vehicles were better for the environment, with their low emissions of carbon dioxide resulting in low vehicle tax rates. However, diesel vehicles produce nitrogen oxides which have been linked to health problems such as respiratory diseases. This has led to an increase in diesel vehicle tax, which is now calculated on carbon dioxide emissions. Increases in tax range from £500 for vehicles that emit between 191 and 225g of CO2 per year, to £40 for the more environmentally friendly 111 to 130g/km vehicles.

This new tax is only applied to vehicles that are registered on or after 1st April 2017, so bear this in mind if you are considering purchasing a new vehicle for work purposes.

Freelancer insurance

Freelance work can take many forms, and because of this, it can be hard to find the right cover to meet your needs. We have a wealth of experience in arranging freelance insurance, so why not speak to one of our trained insurance advisers today for a quote.

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