This year will see us have a general election in the UK and so we should expect to see an avalanche of news, argument and raised voices over the issue of employment law as the main parties jockey for position, trying to win the affections of the UK electorate and business community.

The Conservatives have set out their stall by claiming the creation of 3 million apprenticeships should they remain in power. Meanwhile, Labour argues that they will ban zero-hours contracts and increase the minimum wage to help those struggling to make ends meet.

Consequently employers should prepare for changes in employment law and direction over the next 12 months.

So what is coming up…..

Shared Parental Leave

This law was passed at the end of 2014 to provide greater flexibility in how parents share caring responsibilities for their child in its first year. Parents will be able to share the mother’s maternity leave and, if available, maternity pay.

Changes to Adoption Leave

The Paternity and Adoption Leave Regulations 2014 make changes to adoption leave law. This includes the removal of the 26-week qualifying period to be eligible to take adoption leave, bringing it in line with the eligibility requirements for maternity leave. Surrogate parents will also become eligible for adoption leave.

Child’s Age Limit for Parental Leave Rises to 18 years

Parental leave is separate to shared parental leave, and includes the statutory right to unpaid leave that can be taken by a parent during the first five years of the child’s life. The age limit for the child will increase from five to 18 years from the 5th April 2015. Parents who have qualified based on duration of service will become entitled to 18 weeks’ unpaid parental leave up to the child’s 18th birthday.

Fit for Work Service

This year will see the new Fit for Work service introduced in England and Wales. The service intends to offer employers free occupational assistance when dealing with employees who have been off sick for four weeks or more. Find out more details here.

Statutory Sick Pay Increases

The standard rate of statutory sick pay will increase on the 6th April 2015.

Pensions Auto-Enrolment

In October 2012, the UK Government’s new Workplace Pensions Reform legislation came into effect.  For the first time, all businesses in the UK with one or more employees are required to automatically enrol employees who meet certain minimum criteria into a qualifying workplace pension plan and make minimum contributions into that plan.  You may know this as auto enrolment.

Businesses with between one and 250 employees will need to comply with the auto-enrolment regulations between now and 2018 on their auto-enrolment staging date. Auto-enrolment staging dates are specified by the Pensions Regulator and is the date on which an employer must meet their new auto-enrolment pension obligations.

Read the Pension Regulator’s Essential Guide to Auto-Enrolment here

The Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill

The Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill has been designed to open up new opportunities for small businesses to compete, get finance to create jobs, grow, innovate and export.  Watch the video below to hear from Matthew Hancock MP, Minister of State for Skills and Enterprise about his aspirations for the Bill.

Other changes that are expected to be seen during 2015 include:

  • Increases in holiday pay
  • Increase in penalties for employers who pay under the national minimum wage
  • Improvement to the whistleblowing procedures

If any of the issues raised in this article affect your business, please give us a call to discuss your options. We’re a friendly bunch and really keen to make a difference to your business by finding a solution that works for you and your business so call us on 01473 360160.

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