As a result of the Autumn Statement tax reliefs have been removed relating to employee shareholder status. Previously an employee could become an employee shareholder by giving up some of their statutory employment rights in return for the issue of shares worth at least £2,000. Income tax relief applied to the acquisition of £2,000 worth of employee shareholder shares and capital gains tax relief applied so that the first £100,000 of lifetime gains realised on the disposal of employee shareholder shares was tax free. These reliefs have now been removed in relation to shares issued to an employee under an employee shareholder agreement made on or after 1 December 2016.
In April 2017, the National Living Wage payable to employees over the age of 25 will increase to £7.50.
Perhaps the most far-reaching of these announcements was the Government's decision to end a number of salary sacrifice tax perks on a range of, what the Chancellor described as "unfair", lifestyle benefits such that employees will no longer be able to give up part of their salary in return for a non-cash benefit. Amongst the schemes that will be cut are gym memberships; health screening checks; mobile phones, computers and other tech; accommodation; and school fees. This news will come as a big disappointment to employees and employers, many of whom have invested significant time in crafting comprehensive and attractive flexible benefits packages. It will be some comfort that a number of major schemes including pension contributions, childcare vouchers and cycle-to-work will not be affected and will continue to offer tax savings.