Changes to employment law: 2015 – Part 1

With changes coming thick and fast, keeping up with employment law is becoming more and more challenging. To assist, employment lawyer Nicola Roe of Ironmonger Curtis LLP takes us through some of the changes that have come into force so far in 2015.

Employment law changes take place predominantly twice a year, a number of changes took place on 5 and 6 April, other changes will take place in October.

5th April 2015

The introduction of Shared Parental Leave

This became available to parents of children due to be born or placed for adoption on or after 5 April 2015.

View more in our Shared Parental Leave post

Shared Parental Pay

This also came into force on 5 April 2015 and is currently paid at £139.58.

Statutory maternity, paternity, adoption and shared parental pay increased

The rate was increased from £138.18 per week to £139.58 per week.

The right to take (unpaid) Parental leave extended

Previously this right was only available to parents of children up to the age of 5 (or 18 if the child is disabled).  This is now extended so that parents can take up to 18 weeks (per child) unpaid leave up until the child’s 18th birthday.  This is subject to the relevant qualifying criteria.

The Paternity and Adoption Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2014 came into force.

The rate of adoption pay has been increased to 90% of the employee’s normal weekly earnings for the first 6 weeks.  The 26 weeks service requirement has also been removed before employees are entitled to take adoption leave.

The Shared Parental leave and Paternity and Adoption Leave (Adoption from Overseas) Regulations 2014 came into force

These Regulations entitle couples who are adopting a child from outside the UK the right to shared Parental leave and pay.

6 April 2015

The maximum award that an Employment Tribunal can make for an unfair  dismissal claim increased from £76,574 to £78,335. 

Therefore the cap on the compensatory award is the lower of £78,335 or 52 weeks’ pay.  This is based on the Claimant’s gross salary and excludes pension contributions, benefits in kind and discretionary bonuses.  Certain dismissals still remain uncapped as regards to compensation, these include but are not limited to dismissals relating to whistleblowing, unlawful discrimination and raising health and safety concerns.

A weeks’ pay increased from £464.00 to £475.00.  This is used for calculating statutory redundancy payments and Employment Tribunal basic awards.

Statutory sick pay increased from £87.55 to £88.45 per week.

The definition of “worker” was extended to include student nurses and midwives for whistleblowing purposes.

May 2015

The new ‘Fit for Work’ service is expected to be fully operational throughout the UK by the end of May 2015. 

This service will provide occupational health assessments and aim to assist employees to return to work when they have been absent for more than 4 weeks.

View more in our Fit for work service post

There are other important Employment law changes planned for July and October 2015. There will be a further update which details the prospective changes a little nearer the time so that you are fully prepared.