Changes to Employment Laws in 2015

 New Year, new legislation changes. It has been said that this year, the government has delivered what could be the most complex sets of regulations employers have ever had to handle. Therefore, try and get your head around them now before they are in place.

  1. Shared Parental Leave & Pay Begins

The shared parental leave and pay is to be introduced this year – it will provide greater flexibility in how parents share the care of their child in its first year. This will be available to couples with a baby due, or children placed for adoption, on or after 5th April 2015.

The parents will be able to share the mother’s maternity leave and maternity pay. Shared parental leave will also be available to employees who are, or are expected to be, the parents of a child under a parental order, where the child’s expected week of birth begins on or after 5th April 2015.

  1. Changes to Statutory Adoption Leave & Pay

The Paternity and Adoption Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2014 made significant changes to adoption leave. The 26-week qualifying period to be eligible to take adoption leave will be removed, bringing it into line with the eligibility requirements for maternity leave.

The Children and Families Act 2014 brings statutory adoption pay into line with statutory maternity pay by setting it at 90% of average weekly earnings for the first six weeks.

Adoption leave will also become available for surrogate parents. The leave will be available to employees who are, or expected to be, the parents of a child under a parental order, where the child’s expected week of birth begins on or after 5th April 2015.

  1. New Right to Take Time off to Attend Adoption Appointments

The Children and Families Act 2013 introduces a new right to attend adoption appointments. The main adopter will be entitled to take time off to attend up to five appointments, while the secondary adopter will be entitled to have time off in order to attend up to two appointments.

  1. Child’s Age Limit for Parental Leave Raises to 18

Shared parental leave is unrelated to parental leave; the statutory right to a period of unpaid leave may be taken by a parent during the first five years of the child’s life.

From 5th April 2015, the age limit for the child will increase from five to 18 years old. Parents with sufficient qualifying service will have the right to 18 weeks’ unpaid parental leave up to the child’s 18th birthday.

  1. New Fit for Work Service Available for Employees with Sickness Absence of Four Weeks or More

This new service is to be introduced in England and Wales over the next year, it will offer employers access to free occupational assistance for employees who have been off sick for four weeks or more.

It can also be used to provide more generalised open-access occupational health advice to employees, employers and general practitioners, regardless of the duration of any sickness.

Employers will be able to claim up to £500 tax relief on payments for medical treatment for their employees where the treatment has been recommended under the new scheme.

  1. Removal of Restriction on Defined-Contribution Pension Schemes

Certain restriction in respect of how individuals can draw their benefits from their defined-contribution pension pots after the age of 55 will be removed from April 2015.

  1. Statutory Maternity Pay, Ordinary Paternity Pay & Adoption Pay Increase

The rates of statutory maternity, ordinary statutory paternity pay and statutory adoption pay will increase on 5th April 2015.

  1. Statutory Sick Pay Increases

The standard rate of statutory sick pay increase on 6th April 2015.

  1. National Minimum Wage Rates

The Government submitted evidence to the Low Pay Commission (LPC) on 15th October 2014, which will be used to help determine the National Minimum Wage rates that apply from 1st October 2015. The LPC will submit their report with its recommendation on National Minimum Wage rates to the Government in February 2015.


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