Key changes to employment legislation in April 2015

Employment law is a constantly changing area and, accordingly, it is no surprise that we can expect to see a whole raft of changes in 2015.  Holly Rushton considers a  selection of the key changes to take place in April 2015.

Shared Parental Leave

The new system of shared parental leave will enable parents who have a baby due – or a child placed for adoption with them – on or after 5 April 2015 to share the mother’s maternity leave and, if available, maternity pay.

Abolishment of Additional Paternity Leave

As of 5 April, no new employees can take advantage of the scheme. Any employee who is currently on the scheme can continue to enjoy its benefits.

Enhancement of Adoptive Parents’ Rights

As of 5 April, adoptive parents will no longer be required to have 26 weeks’ service with the employer before becoming entitled to adoption leave, and adoption pay will be brought in line with maternity pay, which will be 90% of normal average weekly earnings for the first 6 weeks. Surrogate parents will also be eligible for adoption leave, where the child’s expected week of birth begins on or after 5 April 2015.

Adoption Appointments

As of 5 April, there will be a new right for single adopters and the main adopter in a pair of joint adopters to attend up to five paid adoption appointments lasting a maximum of six and a half hours each. The partner of the main adopter is entitled to attend up to two unpaid appointments.

Extension of Unpaid Parental Leave

As of 5 April, this 18 weeks of unpaid leave will be extended from parents of children under 5 (unless the child has a disability) to all parents of children up to the age of 18 years, provided the employee has at least one year’s continuous employment.

Increase to Statutory Maternity, Adoption, Paternity, Additional Paternity and Shared Parental Pay

As of 5 April, pay will increase from £138.18 to £139.58 per week.

Increase to Statutory Sick Pay

As of 6 April, pay will increase from £87.55 to £88.45 per week.

Compensatory Award for Unfair Dismissal

With effect from 6 April, the maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal will increase from £76,574 to £78,335, subject to the cap of one year’s salary (whichever is lower).

Limit for Statutory Redundancy and the Basic Award for Unfair Dismissal

As of 6 April, the limit for a week’s pay will rise from £464 to £475 per week.

Expansion of Definition of ‘Worker’ for Whistleblowing Purposes

From 6 April, student nurses and midwives will be included in the definition.

Increased Flexibility in Accessing Defined-Contribution or Money Purchase Pensions Savings

As of 6 April, individuals aged 55 or over will be able to access their pension funds flexibly, subject to their marginal rate of tax.

Changes to National Insurance

As of 6 April, employers’ national insurance will not be due in relation to employees under 21 (subject to an earnings threshold).

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