• Lee Calver
  • 31 March 2015

Key employment law changes – April 2015

Last week we updated you on the changes to shared parental leave, which takes full effect from 5 April 2015. While this is possibly the most significant development for April 2015, there are other employment law changes that organisations must be aware of.

Additional paternity leave

On 5 April 2015, the right of fathers to take additional paternity leave is abolished (as it is replaced by shared parental leave). Employers who have not already done so should update policies and handbooks to remove references to additional paternity leave.

Unpaid parental leave

In addition to these new rights, both parents will retain the right to unpaid parental leave of 18 weeks per child. However, from 5 April 2015, parents will be able to take this in respect of children up to the age of 18 (currently parental leave can only be taken in respect of children up to the age five).

Adoption leave and pay 

From 5 April 2015, adopters will no longer require six months' service in order to qualify for statutory adoption leave and pay. In addition, statutory adoption leave will fall in line with maternity pay and be increased to 90% of earnings for the first six weeks, followed by 33 weeks at the lower statutory rate. 

Adoptive couples will also have the right to time off to attend appointments to meet the child they intend to adopt. The couple will be able to choose for one of them to have paid time off to attend up to five adoption appointments and the other partner to have unpaid time off to accompany them to up to two appointments. 

Furthermore, the Government has extended statutory adoption leave to parents for whom a court has made a parental order in accordance with s.54 of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 and intended parents in a surrogacy situation, in respect of children whose expected week of birth begins on or after 5 April 2015. 

The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills has produced a guide for employers which sets out all of the areas you should consider. Employers are advised to update their policies and consider the process for managers and employees to follow. 

Statutory rate changes

5 April 2015 

The lower rate of statutory maternity and the rates of paternity, adoption and shared parental pay will increase from £138.18 per week to £139.58. 

6 April 2015  

The rate of statutory sick pay will increase from £87.55 to £88.45 per week. 

The Statutory redundancy rate will increase from £464 to £475. 

Maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal will rise from £76,574 to £78,335.

In the coming days, we will be producing a detailed factsheet of all of these changes and forthcoming revisions for 2015. If you would like to receive a copy of this, please email us and we will ensure you get your copy.