It’s April, and so it’s time for some employment law changes – and most of them benefit working families.
I think that the most headline-grabbing of these is the new right for qualifying parents to take shared parental leave. If you are expecting a baby on or after 5 April, and you meet the eligibility requirements, this means that you will be able to share up to 50 weeks off work with your partner. It’s estimated that 285,000 working couples each year will be eligible for these new leave arrangements. There are some fairly complicated notice arrangements, which include giving your employers eight weeks’ notice of the pattern of leave you plan to take.
It’s a very complex piece of legislation, for employers and employees alike. So if you’re a business needing advice on putting a shared parental leave policy in place or how you deal with requests for shared parental leave, we can help. Or if you’re not quite sure what you need to do make a request, or if your proposed leave pattern is rejected, we can help.
And there are other family-friendly provisions coming into force now too, including surrogate parents’ eligibility for leave, and wider rights for adoptive and other parents. From 6 April, people who adopt a child don’t need to have 26 weeks’ continuous service before being able to take adoption leave. From the same date, parents of any child under the age of 18 have the right to take unpaid parental leave. Previously only those with children aged five and under, or with a disabled child, had this entitlement.
Then we have the annual increases in statutory pay. Maternity, paternity and adoption pay goes up to £139.58 per week. That rate also applies to shared parental leave. Statutory sick pay increases to £88.45 per week. Time stands still for no-one…
What’s next, I hear you ask? A general election – and who knows what the impact of that will be on employment rights going forward. Watch this space!