The eight employment law changes employers need to be aware of this year:

1. Introduction of shared parental leave

From 1 December 2014 couples who have a baby due – or a child placed for adoption – on or after 5 April 2015 will be able to share the mother’s maternity leave and, if available, maternity pay.

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2. Changes to statutory adoption pay and leave

As of 5 April 2015 the qualifying period of 26 weeks for an employee to be eligible for adoption leave will be removed.

Statutory adoption pay (SAP) will be put in line with statutory maternity pay, with it being set at 90% of average weekly earnings for the first six weeks.

Surrogate parents will also be eligible for adoption leave, where the child’s expected week of birth begins on or after 5 April 2015.

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3. Right to take time off to go to adoption appointments

From 5 April 2015 the main adopter will be entitled to take time off to attend up to five appointments, and the secondary adopter up to two.

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4. Parental leave age limit of children extended

Parental leave is a parent’s right to take unpaid leave which can be used before the child reaches the age of five.

From 5 April 2015 the age limit of the child will increase to 18 years’ old and parents who have sufficient qualifying service will be able to take 18 weeks’ unpaid leave.

Parental leave isn’t connected to shared parental leave.

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5. Introduction of Fit for Work Service in England & Wales

From April 2015 the government is introducing a new Fit for Work Service, which offers a health and work assessment and advisory service to employees who have been off work due to sickness for four weeks or more.

In England & Wales these employees will be offered access to free occupational assistance.

If employees are recommended medical treatment under the new scheme, employers will be able to claim up to £500 tax relief on the payments on such treatment.

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6. Restrictions removed on defined-contribution pension schemes

From April 2015 certain restrictions will be removed on how individuals can draw their benefits from their defined-contribution pensions after the age of 55.

paternity pay, statutory maternity pay and adoption pay

All rates are increasing from 5 April 2015.

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8. Rate increase of statutory sick pay

As of 5 April 2015 the rate of SSP is increasing to £88.45 per week.

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Published on: January 20, 2015