Jackie Le Poidevin, Editor-in-Chief, HR Adviser


What the Government’s Proposed Ban on Using NDAs to Stop Crimes Being Reported Means for You

Back in 2019, when Theresa May was Prime Minister, the Government consulted on preventing the misuse of confidentiality clauses. This was in response to the #MeToo movement and scandals where non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) had been used to hush up workplace sexual harassment. Everything went quiet but on 28 March the Government suddenly announced a ‘crackdown on “gagging orders” to protect victims’ ability to access support’. We look at what the proposals are and what they mean for businesses.

What is the Government Proposing?

The Government accepts that NDAs can be valuable in protecting confidential business information. It therefore doesn’t want to prevent you from using them to stop employees disclosing things like trade secrets or the size of a financial settlement.

However, it believes NDAs are ‘too often’ misused to silence victims of crime, thereby denying them access to justice or support services to rebuild their lives.

It is proposing to bring forward legislation to clarify that NDAs will be unenforceable if they seek to stop victims discussing information about criminal conduct with:

  • The police or other bodies which investigate or prosecute crime.
  • Qualified and regulated lawyers.
  • Support services (such as counsellors, advocacy services or medical professionals), which operate under clear confidentiality principles.

The Government claims this would ensure victims aren’t prevented from reporting crimes, can seek vital support or advice without fear of retaliation and can see justice done.

What Does this Mean for You?

This law would only ban employers from preventing employees or former employees from speaking up about crimes. We don’t yet know exactly what this means. However, while it will presumably allow them to report the most serious behaviours like sexual assault and hate speech without being sued for breaching an NDA, much harassment or workplace wrongdoing won’t amount to criminal conduct.

You would also, for example, still be able to prevent an employee from speaking to journalists or friends about wrongdoing, even if it amounts to a crime. The Post Office is reported to have used NDAs to stop postmasters sharing information about the Horizon system’s failings with each other and this wouldn’t be outlawed.

The impact of the legislation may therefore be limited – if it’s introduced at all. The Government intends to introduce it ‘as soon as parliamentary time allows’ but with a General Election looming, the proposals may fall by the wayside again.

What You Should Do Now

It’s important to understand that there’s already a host of requirements and best practice guidance in place governing the use of NDAs, including:

  • Whistleblowing laws. These provide that any NDA which tries to prevent an individual from blowing the whistle on wrongdoing to an appropriate authority is unenforceable.
  • Solicitors Regulation Authority rules. Solicitors and in-house lawyers who breach these rules – for example, by drawing up an NDA that tries to stop someone from reporting an offence to the police – could face regulatory action.
  • Equality and Human Rights Commission guidance on the use of confidentiality agreements in discrimination cases. Although this is only guidance, it can still be used as evidence in legal proceedings.
  • Acas guidance on NDAs, as well as its Code of Practice on settlement agreements. The Code of Practice requires you to ensure an employee gets independent legal advice before signing a settlement agreement, which should ensure any unlawful or unreasonable confidentiality clause is picked up on.

This would be a good moment to check you’re following the existing laws and guidance. If you are, any new law will have a minimal impact on you.

If you do use NDAs to stop employees speaking up about harassment or abuses that fall short of criminal behaviour, this may not be illegal now or in the future. However, our advice is to investigate all allegations thoroughly and, if they’re upheld, take action against the perpetrator, rather than silencing the victim. Failing to do so could lead to a ‘toxic’ workplace with poor morale, high employee turnover and a risk of reputational damage if employees do decide to speak out.


Emma Lampka, Editorial Board Member, Health & Safety Adviser and Risk Assessment & Compliance


April is Stress Awareness Month: Start Your Journey to a Stress-free Workplace

The Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) Working Minds campaign has called on employers to support workers’ mental health during Stress Awareness Month. Preventing employee work-related stress isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s also the law. All employers are required to prevent work-related stress to support good mental health in the workplace.

Over the course of the month, the HSE encourages employers to focus on one of the campaign’s 5 Rs for each of the 5 weeks. They are: to

  • Reach out and have conversations
  • Recognise the signs and causes of stress
  • Respond to any risks you’ve identified
  • Reflect on actions you’ve agreed and taken, and
  • Make it Routine.

The HSE has devised 6 Management Standards which, if not effectively managed, can lead to work-related stress: demands, control, support, relationships, role and change. Remember that factors like skills and experience, age, or disability may all affect someone’s ability to cope.

To start your journey to reducing stress in your workplace, reach out and have those important conversation with your team members. You are looking to ensure that each individual feels that:

  1. Demands
  • They are able to cope with the demands of their job.
  • They are provided with achievable demands in relation to the hours they work.
  • Their skills and abilities are matched to the demands of their job.
  • Concerns about their work environment are addressed.
  1. Control
  • They are consulted over the way their work is organised and undertaken e.g. through regular meetings, one-to-ones, performance reviews.
  • They have regular opportunities for discussion and input at the start of projects or new pieces of work.
  • They are encouraged to use their skills and initiative to do their work.
  • They are consulted over things affecting their work.
  • They are encouraged to develop new skills and undertake new and challenging pieces of work.
  1. Support
  • They receive information and support from other employees and their managers.
  • The organisation has systems in place to enable and encourage managers to support their employees and for employees to support each other.
  • They know what support is available and how to access it.
  • They know how to access the resources they need.
  • They receive regular and constructive feedback.
  1. Relationships
  • They are not subjected to unacceptable behaviours such as bullying or harassment at work.
  • The organisation promotes positive behaviours at work.
  • The organisation has agreed policies and procedures to prevent or resolve unacceptable behaviour.
  • The organisation has systems in place to enable and encourage managers to deal with unacceptable behaviour.
  • The organisation has systems in place to enable and encourage employees to report unacceptable behaviour.
  1. Role
  • They understand their role and responsibilities.
  • The organisation provides information to enable them to understand their role and all of their responsibilities.
  • The requirements the organisation places on them are clear.
  • They are able to raise concerns about any uncertainties or conflicts they have in their role and responsibilities through the systems that the organisation has in place.
  1. Change
  • The organisation engages with them frequently when undergoing change.
  • They are provided with timely information, enabling them to understand the reasons for proposed changes.
  • They are consulted on changes and provided with opportunities for them to influence proposals.
  • They are aware of the probable impact of any changes to their job and, if necessary, they are given training to support any changes in their job.


    Sarah Bradford, Editor-in-Chief, Pay & Benefits Adviser

    Get Ready for the New Tax Year, New Rates and Allowances

    The 2024/25 tax year started on 6 April 2024 and, as an employer, it is important to check that you are using the rates and allowances applying for the 2024/25 tax year. Once you have run your 2023/24 year end, you will need to update your payroll software before paying employees for the first time in 2024/25.

    Income Tax and PAYE

    The income tax rates are unchanged from 2023/24. The basic rate of 20% applies to the first £37,700 of taxable income, while the higher rate of 40% applies to the next £87,440 (the band from £37,701 to £125,140). Income in excess of £125,140 is taxed at 45%. Different rates and bands apply to Scottish taxpayers.

    The personal allowance for 2024/25 remains at £12,570. Consequently, the PAYE thresholds for 2024/25 remain at £242 per week; £1,048 per month and £12,570 per year.

    The personal allowance is gradually reduced once income reaches £100,000, being reduced by £1 for every £2 of adjusted net income in excess of £100,000. It is lost entirely once adjusted net income reaches £125,140.

    The emergency tax codes from 6 April 2024 are 1257L W1, 1257L M1 and 1257L X.

    National Insurance

    The Class 1 National Insurance thresholds for 2024/25 are unchanged from 2023/24. The lower earnings limit remains at £123 per week (£533 per month; £6,396 per year), the primary threshold remains at £242 per week (£1,048 per month; £12,570 per year) and the upper earnings limit remains at £967 per week (£4,189 per year; £50,270 per week).

    Likewise, the secondary threshold remains at £175 per week (£758 per month; £9,100 per year), the upper secondary threshold for under 21s, apprentices under 25 and veterans remains at £967 per week (£4,189 per year; £50,270 per week) and the special tax site upper secondary threshold remains at £481 per week (£2,083 per month, £25,000 per year).

    There are, however, changes to the National Insurance rates as the main primary rate payable by employees on earnings between the primary threshold and the upper earnings limit, which is now 8%. The additional primary rate, payable on earnings in excess of the upper earnings limit, remains at 2%. The secondary rate is unchanged at 13.8%, as are the Class 1A and Class 1B rates which also remain at 13.8%.

    National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage

    From 1 April 2024, the qualifying age for the National Living Wage (NLW) fell from 23 to 21. From that date, the NLW is set at £11.44 per hour. From the same date, the National Minimum Wage (NMW) for workers aged 18 to 20 inclusive is £8.60 per hour and that for workers aged under 18 who have reached school leaving age is £6.40 per hour. The rate for apprentices under the age of 19 or 19 and over and in the first year of their apprenticeship is also £6.40 per hour.

    The new rates are the minimum rates that must be paid to all workers. They apply from the start of the first pay reference period beginning on or after 1 April 2024.

    Statutory Payments

    For 2024/25, the weekly rate of statutory sick pay is £116.75.

    Statutory maternity pay and statutory adoption pay are paid at 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings for the first 6 week and at £184.03 or, where lower, 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings for the remainder of the pay period.

    Statutory paternity pay, statutory shared parental pay and statutory parental bereavement pay are payable at the rate of £184.03 or, where lower, at 90% of the employee’s average weekly pay.