Employment Law Changes 2015

In recent years, Employment Law has seen constant change. Here, we briefly summarise the main changes for April 2015.

Whilst there are quite a few of them, few of them are particularly onerous, but it’s important for you to be aware of these changes. All of the following changes are effective from April 2015:

  • Shared Parental Leave – This first one is the most onerous, as it means that for babies born on or after the 5th April 2015, parental leave can now be shared. In other words, what was previously known as ‘maternity leave’ can be shared equally between both parents. If you employ expectant fathers, that could mean that they take significantly more time off than their normal paternity leave allowance of two weeks, which could impact your business significantly. You can find out more in the Good Practice guide to Shared Parental leave from ACAS
  • Changes to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) – this will increase to £88.45 per week – a very minor change from the current rate of £87.55 per week.
  • Statutory Adoption Leave and Pay – parents who adopt a child are entitled to adoption leave – similar to the maternity/paternity leave taken by natural parents. From April, adoption leave will no longer be subject to a 26-week qualifying period of continuous employment. Adoption pay will also be brought in line with maternity pay, increasing it to 90% of normal pay for the first six weeks.
  • Statutory Maternity Pay – this will increase very slightly from £138.18 per week to £139.56 per week. As mentioned above, this same rate will apply to parents taking adoption leave.
  • Surrogate Parents – surrogate parents will now be entitled to adoption leave (subject to meeting the usual criteria), paternity leave and pay, as well as shared parental leave and pay. Both parents will also be entitled to unpaid leave to attend up to two ante natal appointments with the woman carrying the child.
  • Unpaid Parental Leave – the right to this will now be extended to any parents of any child under the age of 18 years.
  • Jury Service – the upper age limit will now increase from 70 to 75, which won’t affect the vast majority of employers.

In addition to the above, Armed Forces reservists will be exempt from the usual two-year qualifying period for unfair dismissal, where the reason for dismissal is that they a reservist. However, the exact date of this change has yet to be confirmed. It is also expected that at some point in 2015, changes will be finalised to the Education and Skills Act 2008, meaning that all young people under 18 will need to be in education or training, at least part-time until they reach 18.

Further changes are already proposed for the remainder of 2015, and yet to be finalised, so it is almost inevitable that there will be more new legislation before the end of the year.

If you need support to ensure that your HR processes remain compliant with current employment law, contact us to find out more about our Employment Law services.