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Small business calendar 2024 - the deadlines and changes to UK law that founders need to know

Published: 
Feb 16, 2022
Updated: Apr 25, 2024
Kaylin S.
Writer
Kaylin Sullivan

Copywriter

Suzanne Worthington
Writer
Suzanne Worthington

Senior Writer

Anna Sivula
Expert contributor
Anna Sivula

Senior Legal Associate

Here’s our guide to the finance and tax dates and deadlines in 2024 that should be on your radar. We’ve also included some changes to the UK law which might affect your business. Read on to find out what’s changed and what to prepare for.

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💷Accounting and tax deadlines

VAT deadlines which are the same every year

Normal VAT deadlines vary: they depend on your company’s VAT return period and whether you submit quarterly, monthly or annual returns. Quarterly VAT returns are typically filed and due one calendar month and seven days after the end of an accounting period.

For example, if your business submits quarterly in March, June, September and December, the dates you need to file and pay will be 7 May, 7 August, 7 October and 7 February for your VAT returns and payments. And for annual adjustments, these will be due on either the March or June returns – so that’s 7 May or 7 August.

VAT threshold increases

From 1 April 2024, The UK VAT registration threshold increases from £85,000 to £90,000 and the deregistration threshold from £83,000 to £88,000.

National Minimum Wage goes up from 1 April 2024

On 1 April 2024, the National Minimum Wage hourly rates go up:

  • National Living Wage (age 21 and over) – from £10.42 to £11.44
  • National Minimum Wage (age 18 to 20) – from £7.49 to £8.60
  • National Minimum Wage (under 18) – from £5.28 to £6.40
  • The Apprenticeship Wage – from £5.28 to £6.40

Statutory rate payments go up from April 2024

From April 2024, these statutory weekly rate increases apply:

To be entitled to these payments, the employee’s average earnings must be equal to or more than the lower earnings limit. The lower earnings limit isn’t going up – it remains at £123.

PAYE deadlines for staff on your payroll

If you have workers on your company payroll, there are some important PAYE deadlines to remember. As an employer, you’re responsible for withholding Income Tax and National Insurance Contributions (NICs) from your employees’ pay, and passing this on to HMRC.

Complete payroll registration by 5 April 2024
6 April is the date to remember for registering for payroll benefits and updating employees’ records. For each employee working for you on 6 April, you must:

  • prepare a payroll record
  • identify the correct tax code for the new tax year
  • enter their tax code in your payroll software.

You can find out more about payroll annual reporting at the gov.uk website.

Send HMRC your summaries monthly or quarterly
Send your Full Payment Submission to HMRC on or before your employees’ payday. If you’re sending an Employer Payment Submission, this needs to be submitted to HMRC by the 19th of the following tax month. (If you haven’t paid any employees in a tax month, then you’ll send an EPS instead of a FPS.)

Pay your PAYE bill monthly or quarterly
You’ll need to make your PAYE payments online on the 22nd of the next tax month if you pay monthly, and if you pay quarterly, by the 22nd of the month after the quarter ends – for example, for the April to July quarter, the deadline is 22 July. If you’re late paying, you might have to pay interest and a penalty.

Send employees their P60s by 31 May 2024
After the end of the tax year (5 April), you must issue P60 forms to each employee by 31 May. And whenever an employee leaves, you’ll need to give them their P45.

Send HMRC P11D forms by 6 July 2024
If you give your employees benefits such as childcare vouchers, interest-free loans or a company car, you’ll need to send HMRC P11D forms. They’re due every year by 6 July.

National Insurance Contributions (NICs) from April 2024

NICs went down in 2024:

  • In January, Class 1 employee National Insurance contributions (NICs) were cut from 12% to 10%
  • Class 1 NICs for employees were cut again in April 2024 – from 10% to 8%
  • Also in April 2024, Class 4 NICs for self-employed people were cut from 8% to 6%

For full details, head to the gov.uk website.

Fixed until April 2028
Secondary threshold – the level you start to pay Class 1 Secondary NICs for your employees changed to £9,100 on 6 April 2024 and will stay at that level until April 2028.

Corporation tax deadlines in 2024

Limited companies pay Corporation Tax on the profits they make each year. You need to register for Corporation Tax when you start trading, or within three months of starting your limited company. The date you register will determine your company’s ‘accounting period’ and your deadlines for paying Corporation Tax and filing your company tax return.

Deadline to file your company tax return
You must submit your company tax return within 12 months of the end of the accounting period it covers. Even if you have nothing to pay, you still need to report it.

Deadline to pay Corporation Tax
Usually you’ll need to pay your CT bill within nine months and one day after the end of your accounting period.

There are penalties if you’re late filing or late paying Corporation Tax.

For all the details about Corporation Tax, visit the gov.uk website.

 

⚖️ Changes to legislation in 2024

R&D tax relief: scheme changes

The Government has announced updates to the R&D tax credits scheme. Here’s what’s changing:

  • The SME scheme and the RDEC scheme are merging into one scheme. Under the merged scheme, you can claim up to 16.2% of your costs back.
  • Most companies will fall into the new ‘merged’ scheme; however, if you’re a knowledge-intensive company (also called R&D intensive) you can claim up to 27% of your R&D costs back in tax credits.

You can read more about the changes on the gov.uk website.

Until April 2025, you’ll still make your R&D claim under the old rules of the SME Scheme and RDEC Scheme

Changes to Companies House powers and filing requirements

The Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act became law in October 2023. The Act gives Companies House new and enhanced powers to improve the quality and reliability of the data on the UK companies register.

Companies House has announced plans to introduce measures brought in by the Act this year, starting on 4 March 2024.

From 4 March 2024, there’ll be new rules for registered office addresses which mean companies must have an ‘appropriate address’ as their registered office at all times. These changes mean you will not be able to use a PO Box as your registered office address from 4 March 2024.

From 4 March 2024, companies will need to give a registered email address to Companies House:

  • New companies will need to give a registered email address when they incorporate.
  • Existing companies will need to give a registered email address when they file their next confirmation statement. If you use the Companies House webfiling service to file your confirmation statements, you will be prompted to provide a registered email address when you file your next confirmation statement.

The email address will not be published on the public register, but Companies House will use the email address to communicate with you about your company, so it’s important that you choose an email address that you’re able to check regularly.

You can learn more about these changes in Companies House’s blog post Get ready for changes to UK company law.

‘Fire and rehire’ draft code published

Remember when P&O dismissed nearly 800 workers in March 2022 without consultation and replaced them with staff on lower pay? As a response, the government committed to producing a Code of Practice on dismissal and re-hiring, a.k.a ‘fire and rehire’.

The draft code was published on 24 January 2023 – it set out how employers must give details about proposed changes to contracts, how they must consult on changes and how to look at alternatives without threatening the employee with dismissal.

When this draft is issued as a statutory Code of Practice, tribunals will be able to increase an employee’s compensation by up to 25% if the employer hasn’t properly followed the Code of Practice.

The code is expected to come into force by summer 2024. You can learn more about it in the Library briefing on fire and rehire practices and in the updated draft Code of Practice published in February 2024.

While the consultation period is underway, employers considering dismissing and re-hiring employees should follow the relevant Acas guidance.

Employees can request flexible working from day one

In 2023, there was an update to legislation about requests for flexible working. These are the changes:

  • staff can make a request from the first day they’re employed
    Currently the law states that an employer doesn’t have to consider a request for flexible working if the employee has worked for the company for less than 26 weeks.
  • employees can make two requests a year
    Currently employees can make only one request a year which their employer is legally obliged to consider.
  • shorten consultation time
    The proposed changes will shorten the time employers have to reply to a request from three to two months.
  • remove requirement for employee to list the likely effects on the business
    Employees requesting flexible working previously had to set out how their proposed change would affect the business and make suggestions on how the employer could deal with the effects. The updated law removes this obligation.

You can learn more about this legislation in the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 and the Acas Code of Practice on flexible working.

What is flexible working?
This doesn’t just mean 'hybrid' working where employees work from home and at the office – 'flexible working' can mean all sorts of working arrangements such as going part-time, working flexi-time, sharing the job, working full time hours but over fewer days, or staggered start and finish times. Read more about different types of flexible working at the gov.uk website.

Better laws for new parents

A couple of updates have been made to legislation to help new parents:

  • Redundancy protection
    Employees taking certain types of parental leave have the right to be offered a suitable alternative vacancy (if one is available) before being made redundant. Pregnant employees are now protected from redundancy starting the day the employer is first notified of the employee’s pregnancy to 18 months after the day the child is born. This protection existed before, but it was only valid during maternity leave, shared parental leave or adoption leave.

Learn more about this law in the Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023.

  • More flexible paternity leave
    Employees entitled to two weeks paternity leave can now split the weeks into two one-week blocks. They can take this paternity leave any time within the first year of their child’s birth. Employees must give notice to employers of their child’s upcoming birth 15 weeks before the birth, and must give 28 days’ notice before each week of paternity leave.

Learn more about this law in the Paternity Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024.

New unpaid leave for carers

The Government has introduced a new and flexible entitlement of one week’s unpaid leave per year for employees who need to provide or arrange care for a dependant who needs long-term care.

This leave is available to eligible employees from the first day working for the employer.

You can learn more in the Carer’s Leave Act 2023 and related Carer’s Leave Regulations 2024.

The online safety bill was approved

The Online Safety Bill was drawn up by the government in March 2022 to introduce more measures to protect children online and tackle illegal and harmful content. The bill has now been passed as the Online Safety Act 2023.

The companies the new laws apply to are:

  • user-generated content platforms
    Services which host content such as images, videos and comments.
  • communication platforms
    Services which allow UK users to talk to other people online through messaging, comments and forums.

 

As well as the big, well-known social media platforms and search engines, the laws affect:

  • forums
  • messaging apps
  • some online games
  • pornography sites
  • cloud storage

Importantly, the new laws allow the regulator to take action against any company no matter where they’re based.

The government says that some user-generated content services will be exempt from the new laws:

  • news websites
  • some retailers
  • some services businesses use internally
  • email services

More protection from sexual harassment

In October 2023, a new Bill was passed to simplify and toughen up the laws on harassment at work. First, the background:

  • Under the Equality Act 2010, harassment is unlawful. Employers can be liable for harassment suffered by employees – but employers aren’t under any obligation to proactively prevent harassment.
  • In 2013, sections of the Act were repealed which means that currently employers aren’t liable if their employees are harassed at work by third parties (for example, customers, suppliers, the public etc).

Hospitality staff to keep their tips

In July 2022, the government announced backing for the Tipping Bill which will require employers to pay all tips, gratuities and service charges to workers in full without deductions, and by the end of the month after the month in which the customer paid the tip, gratuity or service charge.

The Bill also brings in legal obligations to make sure tips are distributed fairly among workers.

The Bill received royal assent in May 2023 and is now law as the Employment (Allocation of Tips) Act 2023. This change is expected to come into force from July 2024 through a statutory code of practice. You can find out more by reading the draft code of practice published on 22 April 2024.

Data protection law hasn’t changed – yet

The Data Protection Act 2018 that’s in force at the moment is the UK’s implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which applies in the European Union.

Now, post-Brexit, the UK can amend data protection laws – the proposed changes are set out in the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill which was presented in Parliament in July 2022. The Bill was paused in autumn last year to allow for the changes in the government leadership but the parliamentary process continued in late 2023 and the Bill is currently progressing through the House of Lords.

The proposed changes set out in this Bill are designed to clarify the existing laws, make it easier to process data and comply with obligations, and to add new provisions about digital verification and access to data.

You can read the Bill and follow its progress at the parliament.uk website.

Restrictions on promoting unhealthy foods

New restrictions on promoting foods and drinks high in saturated fat, salt or sugar, (which the government calls ‘HFSS’ or ‘less healthy’ foods) are set to take effect by 1 October 2025:

Restrictions on HFSS products by location
– came into force on 1 October 2022
Businesses aren’t allowed to feature these HSFF in eye-catching locations, such as at checkouts, store entrances, aisle ends and the online equivalents.

Restrictions on HFSS products by volume price
– come into force on 1 October 2025
Volume price means deals such as ‘buy one get one free’, ‘4 for £10’ and ‘3 for 2’.

The law applies to businesses with 50 or more employees which sell prepacked food in store and/or online to customers in England – regardless of whether the business is registered in England.

Read the guidance at the gov.uk website.

Consumers will be protected against subscription traps

The Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill is at its final stages. For B2C companies selling subscriptions, the changes to consumer laws will mean that businesses will have to give specific pre-contract information to customers, send reminders to customers before auto-renewals and make it easy to cancel subscriptions.

AI regulation is being explored

Still in its very early stages, the Artificial Intelligence (Regulation) Bill [HL] originated in the House of Lords and is currently waiting for its third reading on 10 May 2024 before progressing to the House of Commons. The Bill is to develop a regulatory framework for Artificial Intelligence (AI).

The Bill proposes that a new AI Authority is created to oversee and harmonise the regulation of AI. It also sets out principles for AI safety, transparency, fairness, accountability, and non-discrimination. Under the Bill, companies developing or using AI would be required to appoint designated officers to guarantee ethical use and unbiased data handling.

The Bill also introduces regulatory sandboxes to allow businesses to test AI innovations in the market with real consumers with the help of regulatory oversight from the AI Authority.

The Bill would depart from the UK government’s current light-touch approach to AI regulation, as described in a 2023 White Paper and the government’s response published in February 2024.

That’s our round-up of important dates, deadlines and changes for 2024. With a little forward planning now, you can get ahead of your financial admin for the year and plan for changes in UK law.

To view deadlines for your legal tasks, for example if you need to grant share options before your EMI Valuation expires or you can’t remember a SeedFAST longstop date, log into SeedLegals and go to Calendar. If you’re not sure about a date or deadline, hit the chat bubble to ask our experts.

 

Suzanne Worthington

Suzanne Worthington

Sooze is our Senior Writer. She's obsessed with making complicated things easy to understand.
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