Changes to statutory sick pay, maternity and redundancy pay
From 6th April the statutory sick pay rate increases from £87.55 to £88.45 per week. Maternity pay, ordinary, additional paternity and adoption pay increases from £138.18 to £139.58. The maximum amount of a week’s pay for calculating statutory redundancy pay will also change to £475.
Shared parental leave
Employees who are the parents of children born on or after 5th April 2015 will have the right to request shared parental leave and pay. The new rules work by a couple being allowed to share some of the mother’s entitlement to maternity leave by opting into shared parental leave (SPL). Each eligible parent is able to submit three notices booking periods of leave. Employees can request they alternate the 12 months leave available between them, potentially on a monthly basis.
In addition to this, parents taking SPL will also be able to share up to 20 optional “in touch” (SPLIT) days, in addition to the 10 KIT days women can get on maternity leave.
Standard maternity/adoption and paternity leave and pay will stand, unless parents choose to opt in to SPL instead.
A birth mother must still take at least two weeks leave following the birth of a child. Fathers can also take 2 weeks statutory parental leave and pay in addition to any shared parental leave.
It is advisable to discuss the application in depth with the employee before they formally submit a request as repeated applications will be very time consuming to assess. Employers have no right to reject an application for continuous leave; shared parental leave can only be rejected on a similar basis to the objections to flexible working. You cannot penalise parents for using SPL, or put any pressure on them to cancel or change it.
More rights for surrogate and adoptive parents
Also from 6th April parents taking adoption leave will have the same eligibility requirements and statutory pay as employees taking maternity leave. Surrogate parents will also become eligible for adoption leave.
Parental leave extended to 18
The right to unpaid parental leave will be extended to parents of any child under 18 years.
New compensation limits for employment tribunal costs
The limit for a week’s pay will increase to £475 when calculating compensation for unfair dismissal, making the new maximum compensation amount £78,335.
On the horizon…
changes to managing sickness absence
The new health and work assessment and advisory service is set to start operating in the next few months. It will provide advice and support to help employers with staff members who have sickness absence lasting more than 4 weeks to get them back into work. Following an assessment, employees will be given a return to work plan, which will provide evidence of fitness to work.
Remember that it is a good idea to seek advice ahead of taking any action. As well as providing regular updates, the Forum’s business advice team can give advice on all employment-related issues. For further information visit www.fpb.org or call 0845 130 1722.