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April saw the government introduce a collection of changes affecting employment law. We have compiled a list of the changes to ensure business owners understand their purpose and implications.
Qualifying for adoption leave: The Paternity and Adoption Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2014 mean adopters no longer need to work for 26 weeks before they qualify for adoption leave to match the qualification of maternity leave. Adoption pay was also brought in line with maternity pay.
Adoption appointments: Employees who are adopting have a right to time off to attend adoption appointments. The Children and Families Act 2014 gives a new right for employees to attend up to 5 appointments. This also applies if the employee is the main adopter of a joint adoption. The other adopter is limited to 2 unpaid appointments. Importantly an employee who uses their right to take time off to attend an adoption appointment will no longer be entitled to take paternity leave for that child.
Shared parental leave: Designed to give parents greater flexibility to share the care of their children in their first year. Parents of children born or matched for adoption after the 5th April have a right to shared parental leave and pay after the birth or adoption of a child. To qualify for shared parental leave the mother must give up their right to take maternity or adoption leave. The remaining time can be flexibly divided between partners. Similarly, maternity or adoption pay, or maternity allowance, can be given up and divided so that shared parental pay is paid to the mother or main adopter and/or their partner while taking shared parental leave.
Parental leave: The right to 18 weeks unpaid parental leave has been extended to from children up to the age of 5, to parents of any child under the age of 18.
Unfair dismissal & redundancy: The minimum basic award for unfair dismissal has increased from £5,767 to £5,807. The maximum compensation limit has risen from £76,574 to £78,335. Effective on cases where dismissal or payment is after the 6th April 2015. The maximum statutory redundancy pay has increased from £13,920 to £14,250.
National Insurance: The lower earnings limit for National Insurance purposes has increased from £111 to £112 a week.
Statutory pay rates increase: The maternity, adoption and paternity pay has increased from £138.18 to £139.58. Sick pay has also increased to £88.45.