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28 April 2015

April 2015 changes to employment law

The following changes to employment law came into effect this month:

5 April 2015

Shared parental leave

The new system of shared parental leave will be available to parents of children due to be born or placed for adoption with them on or after 5 April 2015.  Eligible employees will be entitled to a maximum of 52 weeks’ leave and 39 weeks’ statutory pay upon the birth or adoption of a child, which can be shared between the parents.

More rights for adopters

Adopters will benefit from the increased rights listed below:

  • Removal of the requirement for 26 weeks’ service before employees become entitled to adoption leave
  • Both single and joint adopters will have the right to attend adoption appointments and will be protected from suffering a detriment or being dismissed in relation to exercising that right
  • Statutory adoption pay will be brought into line with statutory maternity pay
  • Current adoption rights will be extended to couples adopting a child from outside the UK and couples fostering children as part of a Fostering for Adoption placement.

Unpaid parental leave

The age of a child up to which unpaid parental leave may be taken, will be increased from the child’s fifth birthday up to the child’s eighteenth birthday.

6 April 2015

National minimum wage: new rates and updated guidance

The National Minimum Wage (NMW) is being increased in line with the recommendations of the Low Pay Commission to £6.70 per hour (from £6.50) for workers aged 21 and over.  This is the largest real-terms increase in the NMW since 2007.  The NMW for apprentices is being increased beyond the recommendation of the Low Pay Commission (see below).

The increases to all NMW rates, taking effect from 1 October 2015, are as follows:

  • A 3% increase to the adult rate, from £6.50 to £6.70 per hour
  • A 3.3% increase to the youth development rate (18-20 year olds), from £5.13 to £5.30
  • A 2.2% increase to the 16-17 year old rate, from £3.79 to £3.87
  • A 20.9% increase to the apprentice rate, from £2.73 to £3.30.  This is significantly higher than the rate recommended by the Low Pay Commission (of £2.80) and is the highest ever increase for apprentices.
  • The accommodation offset will increase from £5.08 to £5.35.

In addition, the Government has updated its guidance for employers on calculating the national minimum wage.  The guidance clarifies what counts and what does not count as pay and working hours for national minimum wage purposes, including in respect of workers who sleep between duties and who travel between assignments.

A copy of the guidance can be downloaded from the https://www.gov.uk/ website.

Steps to combat false employment

The amended record-keeping, returns and penalties provisions under the Finance Act 2015, intended to combat false self-employment through service companies, will apply from 6 April onwards (with the first return due by 5 August 2015).