April 2015 changes and what to expect in the next Parliament

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April 2015 changes and what to expect in the next Parliament

Published On: 13 April 2015

A few changes to employment law have come into force this month, most notably the right to take shared parental leave and further rights for adopters. Before Parliament was dissolved a number of Acts received royal assent, but the precise scope of the new laws will need to be fleshed out in regulations produced by the next government. 

April 2015 changes

Shared parental leave

The new system of shared parental leave will be available to parents of children  born or placed for adoption with them on or after 5 April 2015. Parents may choose to create 50 weeks' leave and 37 weeks' statutory pay, which can be shared between them. 

More rights for adopters

Adopters will benefit from the increased rights listed below. The first two give adopters parity with birth parents:

  • Removal of the requirement for 26 weeks' service before employees become entitled to adoption leave;
  • Statutory adoption pay brought into line with statutory maternity pay;
  • Both single and joint adopters have the right to attend adoption appointments and are protected from suffering a detriment or being dismissed in relation to exercising that right;
  • Adoption rights extended to couples adopting a child from outside the UK and couples fostering children as part of a Fostering for Adoption placement.

Unpaid parental leave

The age of a child up to which unpaid parental leave may be taken, increased from the child's fifth birthday to their child's eighteenth birthday.

Steps to combat false self-employment

The amended record-keeping, returns and penalties provisions under the Finance Act 2015 intended to combat false self-employment through service companies will apply from 6 April onward.

Legislation to watch

Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015: 

  • The power to make exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts unenforceable is not yet in force, despite statements in the press by the Prime Minister suggesting the contrary. It is not known when the implementation date for the employment provisions is likely to be;
  • Gender pay reporting for private and voluntary sector employers with more than 250 employees to be required by Spring 2016;
  • This Act also contains powers to: Introduce special protections to prevent discrimination against NHS employees who have made protected disclosures, require public sector exit payments to be repaid where employees return to public service after a short period of time, fine employers for the non-payment of tribunal awards and impose a £20,000 penalty per worker on an employer who underpays its workers in breach of the National Minimum Wage Regulations.

Deregulation Act 2015: 

  • English apprenticeships will come into force on 26 May 2015. As is currently the case with apprenticeship agreements, approved English apprenticeships will be contracts of service;
  • On 1 October 2015 the powers of employment tribunals to make wider recommendations in successful discrimination cases will be removed.