Luke Watkeys, Business Manager
Last week Karen outlined our top five HR resolutions for 2015. In this blog I’m going to explore one of those resolutions in a bit more detail, specifically the changes in employment law affecting families in the workplace. From 5 April, we will see far reaching changes to maternity, paternity, adoption and parental leave. Are you set up to deal with them?
The biggest change is that the primary carer of a child will soon be able to curb their maternity or adoption leave rights (once their mandatory two weeks’ maternity or adoption leave period has ended) and then share up to the remaining 50 weeks of what would have been their entitlement with their partner. It’s now just a few months until employers will start having to deal with these applications and feel the full effects of this change. We strongly recommend getting to grips with this and implementing a clear policy which explains how it operates, the eligibility criteria and the application process.
2. Changes to statutory adoption leave and pay
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. Statutory adoption pay will also be brought into line with statutory maternity pay by setting it at 90% of average weekly earnings for the first six weeks.
New categories of family will also become eligible for adoption leave this year:
- Surrogate parents will also become eligible for adoption leave. The leave will be available to employees who are, or expect to be, the parents of a child under a parental order.
- Local authority parents who are prospective adopters will also become eligible to take adoption leave.
3. New right to take time off to attend adoption appointments
There will be a new right for employees proposing to adopt a child to take time off to attend up to five adoption appointments. As to payment for this time off, it must be paid where the employee is adopting the child on their own. If the employee is adopting jointly then one of the parents may elect to receive the time off as paid and the other will be entitled to take the time off as unpaid.
4. Child’s age limit for parental leave increases to 18
Parental leave is the statutory right to a period of unpaid leave that at present may be taken by a parent during the first five years of the child’s life. From 5 April however, the age limit for the child will increase from five to 18 years. Parents with sufficient qualifying service will have the right to 18 weeks’ unpaid parental leave up to the child’s 18th birthday.
5. Statutory maternity pay, ordinary paternity pay and adoption pay increase
The rates of statutory maternity, ordinary statutory paternity pay and statutory adoption pay will increase on 5 April 2015, the actual amount to be confirmed.
So not an unsubstantial amount of changes then! Don’t worry about drafting these policies from scratch, we've done all the hard work and created a comprehensive shared parental leave policy as well as amended our existing family and parental leave policies which you can use. For access to our secure online policy bank, get in touch for further information.