Changes in Employment Legislation for 2015

With the general election in May 2015 fast approaching, we will see a number of changes being pushed through in the first half of the year starting with the introduction of shared parental leave as well as zero hours and PAYE contracts featuring prominently on the employment law landscape in 2015.

Here’s a summary of the main expected employment law developments in 2015, together with the likely starting dates:

January to May 2015

A new Fit for Work Service is to be rolled out on a phased basis, offering free occupational health assistance to employees and employers, including an independent state-funded work-focused occupational health assessment of employees who have been off sick for four weeks or more.

Employees will normally be referred by their GPs with a case manager who will then support each employee through the service’s assessment process. A resulting return to work plan will be shared with their employer and GP.

5th April 2015

A new system of shared parental leave (SPL) and Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) will take effect where the expected week of childbirth, or the date of placement of the child for adoption, is on or after 5th April 2015, enabling eligible employees who are parents (whether by birth or adoption) to take paid and/or unpaid leave within the first year of their child’s life or the first year after their child’s placement for adoption, provided that the eligible mother or adopter has volunteered to end their maternity (or has already returned to work early).

Instead, they can then opt into the SPL regime, enabling the balance of their untaken leave and pay to be shared between them and the other eligible parent or adopter – up to a maximum of 50 weeks of SPL and 37 weeks of ShPP is available.

Additional paternity leave and pay will be abolished where the expected week of childbirth, or the date of placement of the child for adoption, is on or after 5th April 2015.

Adoption leave rights will be extended to cover parents who have applied or intend to apply for a parental order in surrogacy arrangements, and they will also be entitled to SPL.

The 26-week qualifying service requirement for the entitlement to adoption leave will be removed and there will be an increase in Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP) to 90% of normal earnings in the first six weeks, to bring it into line with the provisions on Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP).

Also a new statutory right to paid and unpaid time off for prospective adopters to attend pre-adoption appointments will be introduced.

The current unpaid parental leave regime will be extended to cover parents of children aged between 5 and 18. At the moment, eligible parents are entitled to take up to 18 weeks of unpaid parental leave up until either the child’s 5th birthday, or the fifth anniversary of the date of placement of the child for adoption. This limitation on unpaid parental leave will be removed so as to permit the leave to be taken at any time before the child’s 18th birthday.

The standard rates of SMP, SAP, ShPP and Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP) will increase from £138.18 to £139.58 per week.

6th April 2015

The standard rate of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) will increase from £87.55 to £88.45 per week.

The lower earnings limit applying to National Insurance Contributions, below which employees are not entitled to SSP, SMP, SAP, SPP and ShPP, will increase from £111 to £112 per week.

If you are unsure how these upcoming changes will affect you and your business, then contact us on 0161 249 5040 or email our Payroll team