Whilst many of you will be looking forward to tucking into your Easter eggs, there is also plenty of food for thought for employers come 5 April 2015. There are a number of significant employment law changes just around the corner. Many of these changes are within the family friendly field, but there are also changes too for the amount that an Employment Tribunal can award in unfair dismissal claims.
The key date to watch out for is 5 April 2015 for the majority of changes and 6 April for others. So let’s take a brief look at what changes are coming into force and what are the key points for employers to take notice of.
Family Friendly Changes:
Eligible employees will be entitled to share almost all of Mum’s Maternity or main adopter’s Adoption Leave and pay. The maximums remain at 52 weeks’ leave and 39 weeks’ statutory pay upon the birth or adoption of a child.
For more information about Shared Parental Leave take a look at our previous article by following this link here.
The age of a child, for which unpaid parental leave may be taken for will increase from the child’s 5th birthday (or anniversary of adoption) up to the child’s 18th birthday.
(iii) Time off to attend adoption appointments:
Both single and joint adopters will have the right to take paid time off to attend adoption appointments.
This is up to a maximum of 5 appointments for single adopters or 2 appointments each for joint adopters. Each instance is subject to a maximum of 6 ½ hours each.
(iv) Changes to Adoption Leave:
Adopters will no longer have to be employed for 26 weeks’ before they become entitled to adoption leave. This brings them into line with birth parents.
Statutory Adoption Pay will be brought into line with Statutory Maternity Pay, by the introduction of a six-week period at 90% of earnings.
Adopters will be able to take time off to attend appointments to meet the child they intend to adopt (see above).
Employees will not be able to take paternity leave if they have exercised their right to take paid time off to attend an adoption appointment in respect of that child.
Employees and eligible agency workers will be entitled to bring a tribunal claim if their employer, temporary work agency or hirer refuses them time off for adoption appointments, refuses to pay them for the time off or if they are dismissed as a result of exercising the right.
(v) Changes for surrogate parents
Provided they meet the eligibility criteria, parents who have a child through surrogacy will be permitted to take -Ordinary Paternity Leave and Pay, Adoption Leave and Pay and/or Shared Parental Leave and Pay.
Both parents will also be entitled to take unpaid time off to attend two antenatal appointments with the woman carrying the child.
Other Changes (from 6 April 2015):
(i) Limits on Employment Tribunal Awards Increases:
For employees who are dismissed on or after 6 April 2015, the maximum compensatory award for an unfair dismissal claim will rise from £76,574 to £78,335.
Also, the maximum amount of a week’s pay, used to calculate statutory redundancy payments and various awards including the basic and additional awards for an unfair dismissal claim will rise from £464 to £475.
(ii) Other increases:
From 6 April, Statutory pay for Maternity, Paternity, Adoption and Shared Parental Leave will increase to £139.58 per week.
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) rate will also increase on this date to £88.45 per week.
As you will see from above, there are lots of changes coming into force for the 5 April 2015, which is approaching rapidly!
As an employer you will need to ensure that you are not only aware of these changes but also that you are ready for them to be implemented. This will include reviewing and making to your existing policies; particularly those family friendly ones.
If you would like any further advice on this topic or any other aspect of employment law, please do contact the team for a confidential chat.