Employment Law newsThe turn of the New Year always beckons in new legislative changes, and 2015 is no different. This article will cover all of the changes every employer should be aware of.

  1. Shared parental leave and pay.
    Couples who are expecting, or adopting a child on or after 5th April 2015 will be entitled to share 50 weeks maternity leave, and 37 weeks pay if this is available.
  2. Changes to adoption leave and pay. Significant changes are planned to adoption regulations in 2015. For a start, employees will no longer have to be employed for 26 weeks by the same employer to be eligible for adoption leave, and adoption pay will become 90% of the parent’s wage for the first six weeks. Both of these new rulings bring adoption regulations in line with that of maternity leave and pay, and also offer protection for those dismissed in relation to their adoption leave. Another change in The Paternity and Adoption Leave (Amendment) (No 2) Regulations 2014 grants local authority parents the right to adoption leave. Surrogate parents will also be eligible for adoption leave, as long as their child’s expected due week falls on the 5th of April or afterwards.
  3. Right to take time off to attend adoption meetings
    Prospective parents will now be able to take time off to attend adoption appointments. The first adopter will be entitled to up to five scheduled appointments, whilst a secondary adopter will be granted two. This right was introduced in The Children and Family Act 2013.
  4. Parental leave age for children rises from 5 years to 18
    Previously a parent had a right to up to 18 weeks unpaid leave during the first 5 years of their child’s life, or up to 18 years of age if their child is disabled. The new regulation states that this period of leave is available up until the child’s 18th birthday for any child.
  5. Fit for Work scheme made available for employees absent through sickness for more than 4 weeks
    The Fit for Work scheme will allow employers to offer free assistance to employees who have been off work due to sickness for more than four weeks. The service will be introduced by May 2015, and is already available on a more general basis to offer health related advice regardless of sickness through an Internet portal and a phone line. The site can be found here. Where treatment has been recommended through the scheme, employers will be able to claim up to £500 tax relief on payments.
  6. Changes to restrictions on defined-contribution pension schemes
    From April 2015 certain restrictions are to be lifted on the way that over 55’s can access their pension pot. If you’d like to discuss the changes with our Financial Services team, contact us through the website or call us on 01943 876631.
  7. Pay increase for statutory maternity, ordinary statutory paternity, and adoption
    In line with other amendments, rates of pay for maternity, paternity and adoption will increase from 5th April 2015. The rate is set to increase from £138.18 per week to £138.58 per week, which will also be the shared paternity rate.
  8. Increase in statutory sick pay
    From 6th April 2015 the standard rate of sick pay will be increased from £87.55 to £88.45 per week.
  9. Changes to national minimum wage rates
    In February 2015 the Low Pay Commission will submit a report to the government on national minimum wage rates, changes expected from 1st October 2015. The report is expected to take into account the state of the economy, employment, and policy change.

There are a further 3 laws expected to be announced in 2015. These are:

  • All young people to be in education or training until the age of 18
  • To be confirmed- exemption for reservists from two year qualifying period for unfair dismissal
  • The upper age limit for jury service is to be increased from 70 to 75

What the changes mean for Employers:

All of the above make it all the more important that your employment systems and procedures are correct and up to date. Some of these changes are very minor – for example the minimum wage is increasing by just 90p per week, which is very unlikely to cause a complicated dispute. However, subjects like parental leave, adoption and surrogacy can be more emotive, so it’s important that you and your employees are well aware of their rights to paid or unpaid leave. The main implication will be updating your Employee Handbook to fully reflect all of the changes, and communicating the changes to your employees.

Call us on 01943 876631 or contact us through the website if we can help you in any way. We’re always happy to discuss Employment Practices Liability or our Employment Law services with you.