Employers need to be ready as 2015 has numerous significant changes in employment law.

Watch out for the following:

1. Shared Parental Leave and Pay begins

Described as one of the “yuckiest, most horrible laws ever” and “the most complex sets of regulations” the right to shared parental leave and pay will be available to couples with a baby born or those adopting on or after 5th April 2015.

Parents will be able to share a mother’s maternity leave and if applicable maternity pay.

2. New Compensation limits in force – Increase to Statutory Redundancy Pay

The Employment Rights (Increase of Limits) Order 2015 has now been made and will increase compensation limits and awards that apply to a range of employment claims from 6th April 2015 including:

i) The limit on gross weekly pay for Statutory Redundancy Pay or the Basic Award for unfair dismissal will increase from £464 to £475; and
ii) The maximum Compensatory Award for unfair dismissal will increase from £76,574 to £78,335.

3. Child’s age limit for Parental Leave raises to 18

The current law for the statutory right to a period of unpaid leave is that this may be taken by a parent during the first 5 years of a child’s life.

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

4. Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)

SSP increases on 6th April 2015

5. National Minimum Wage

These rates will increase from 1st October 2015

6. The Fit for Work Service will be available

This remains scheduled for introduction this year (currently May 2015) whereby employees who have been off work sick for 4 weeks or more will be automatically referred to this new occupational health organisation who may suggest return to work plans etc to employers. To date this has been met with much controversy.

7. Increases to Statutory Maternity Pay, Ordinary Paternity Pay and Adoption Pay

These will increase from 6th April 2015

8. Statutory Adoption Leave and Pay

With effect from 5th April 2015, the Paternity and Adoption Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2014 will remove the 26 week qualifying period to be eligible for this leave and brings it in line with maternity leave eligibility requirements.

The Childrens and Families Act 2014 brings statutory adoption pay into line with statutory maternity pay.

Surrogate parents will also become eligible for adoption leave.

9. Holiday Pay

From 1st July 2015, the 2 year cap on backdated holiday pay claims raised in the Employment Tribunal will come into force. Applicable only to claims raised on or after 1st July 2015.

10. Also in 2015

A number of other changes were expected this year as a result of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill, however due to the imminent general election it is now in the balance as to whether these changes will come into force. Subject to this, these include the following:

• Enforcing employment tribunal awards and settlements

Financial penalties for employers who fail to pay the award ordered by a tribunal are to be introduced. This penalty could be up to 50% of the original award.

• Financial penalties for failure to pay the national minimum wage

The current position is that there is a £20,000 maximum penalty in place for the failure to pay the national minimum wage. This Bill amends the National Minimum Wage Act 1998 so that the £20,000 maximum penalty applies in respect of each worker that is underpaid.

• Zero Hours Contracts

There will be amendments to the Employment Rights Act by introducing a definition of a zero hours contract. It will also render clauses in zero hour contracts preventing workers from working for someone else unenforceable.

For HR & Employment law advice or support on any of the above, please contact Farleys HR & Employment law team on 0845 050 1958, or complete an online enquiry form.