Forum warns employers to make sure they are up to date with incoming changes to workplace rules
Tuesday, 24 March 2015
April sees the routine raft of workplace regulatory changes come into
force that will impact on employers of all sizes. While many large
employers have designated HR functions to help them keep up to speed
with the ever-changing rules and regulations governing the world of
work, it can prove difficult for the small business owner.
Jo Bostock, business adviser at the Forum of Private Business explains:
“Keeping up to speed with red tape can prove time consuming and costly. However, failure to comply with regulation changes could result in hefty fines and a damaged reputation, which could break a small business. Therefore it pays to ensure that you seek advice or updates to make sure you are ready well in advance.”
Key employment law changes that small business owners should have on their radar and key developments on the horizon are:
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 and additional paternity and adoption pay increase 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 two 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 four 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.
(Source - Forum of Private Business Press Release)