Employment Law Updates - April 2015

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

There are some significant changes to employment law as of 5 April 2015, particularly in the area of family leave. The headline news is the introduction of shared parental leave, but various other changes have also taken effect.

Below is a summary of the main changes but don’t forget that Judicium Education can provide you with full guidance on all of these matters along with draft policies and any necessary templates. Please get in touch to discuss our service further.

Shared Parental Leave (SPL)

For parents of children born or matched for adoption on or after 5 April 2015

A flexible system of shared parental leave and pay is now available allowing parents to choose how they share the care of their child during the first year after birth or placement following adoption. The mother is required to take the first two weeks off after the birth and the rest of her leave and pay can then be shared between the parents, either in turns or at the same time. This means that up to 50 weeks’ leave and 37 weeks’ shared parental leave pay can be shared.

Additional Paternity Leave

Additional paternity leave has now been replaced by shared parental leave and will be available where the expected week of childbirth starts on or after 5 April 2015.

Statutory Adoption Leave and Pay

Statutory adoption leave will no longer have the 26-week qualifying period and is available to eligible employees from the first day of employment. Adoption pay has been increased to match maternity pay so that the main adopter is paid a rate of 90% of their pay for six weeks, followed by the basic rate of adoption pay for 33 weeks. A single adopter will have the right to paid time off to attend up to five adoption appointments. Where there are joint adopters, one parent will be allowed to attend up to five appointments with pay and the other may attend two appointments on an unpaid basis. Each appointment can be for up to six and a half hours long. Adoptive parents will also be able to take shared parental leave if eligible.

New rights for surrogate parents

Up until 4 April 2015, anyone who became a parent by using a surrogate birth mother had no entitlement to any statutory leave or pay.

From 5 April 2015, parents who meet the eligibility criteria and who have a child through a surrogacy arrangement will be permitted to take ordinary paternity leave and pay, adoption leave and pay and 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. The birth mother will retain the right to maternity leave and pay.

Parental leave extended to 18

As from 5th April 2015, a parent with one year’s employment will be able to take unpaid parental leave of up to 18 weeks in respect of a child under the age of 18; previously the child had to be under the age of 5, or under the age of 18 if disabled. This right also applies to adoptive parents.

New statutory payment rates

As of 5 April 2015 the statutory rate of pay for maternity, adoption, paternity and shared parental Leave has increased to £139.58 per week.

As of 6 April 2015 statutory sick pay has increased to £88.45 per week.

Action required

You will need to update your family leave policies to include the new right to shared parental leave and the other changes to family leave outlined above.

We also recommend that you ensure that you have clear internal record-keeping procedures in place to deal with shared parental leave requests.

"So many things to think about, without a doubt the most informative and useful course I have been on this year.” Anna Golightly, Peterborough Learning Partnership

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