A number of changes affecting employee benefits came into effect on 6 April.
- The savings limit for sharesave schemes has doubled from £250 to £500 a month, and the maximum value of shares that an employee can acquire with tax advantages through share incentive plans has risen to £1,800 a year for partnership shares and £3,600 a year for free shares.
- The way both new and existing employee share schemes are administered has changed. Employers must now register any new share plans, both tax advantaged and non-tax advantaged, online, and self-certify that any tax-advantaged plans are compliant with legislation. The changes affect sharesave schemes, share incentive plans, company share option plans, enterprise management incentives and any non tax-advantaged arrangements.
- The basic state pension has increased by £2.95 a week.
- The lifetime limit on tax-exempt pension savings has reduced to £1.25 million.
- The annual allowance limit on tax-efficient pension savings is now set at £40,000.
- The personal tax allowance has risen to £10,000, which means the first £10,000 of an employee’s salary will be exempt from income tax. This will increase again to £10,500 from April 2015.
- Statutory maternity, paternity and adoption pay increased to £138.18 per week.
- Statutory sick pay increased to £87.55 per week.
- The percentage threshold scheme, which currently allows employers to reclaim any statutory sick pay paid to employees over and above the set percentage threshold of their national iInsurance contributions, has been abolished. This will be used to fund the incoming Health and Work Service.
- The threshold for tax exemption on employment-related loans, such as travel season ticket loans, has increased to £10,000, as long as the outstanding balances on loans do not exceed the threshold at any time in a tax year.