Charity BackRoom Employment Law Update -October 2014

Esme Johnson Chartered MCIPD- Lead HR Consultant.

April and October are key times for employment law legislation changes. Much has been announced over the summer and there are further changes ahead. This update will give you an understanding of the practical implications of new legislation and what to look out for over the next 6 months.

Time off for fathers and partners to attend antenatal appointments

From the 1st October the Children’s and Families Act allows fathers to be and partners of pregnant women, to take time off to attend two antenatal appointments with the expectant mother. The maximum amount of time the employee is allowed to be absent for work for the appointment is 6.5 hours. This time off is un-paid. Charity Backroom clients will receive an updated maternity and paternity leave policy template to reflect this change.

National Minimum Wage Increase

The rates from 1st October 2014 are:
• 21 years and over - £6.50 per hour.
• 18-20 years 5.13 per hour.
• 16-17 year olds – 3.79 per hour.
• Apprentice rate - £2.73 per hour.

The government have also increased the maximum penalty for failure to pay the minimum wage to £20,000.

Shared Parental Leave

On 1st December 2014, one of the government’s most anticipated pieces of legislation comes into force. Shared parental leave rights will be introduced for parents expecting babies or ready to adopt a child from 5 April 2015, which means that enquiries could begin to come in from employees now.

It is designed to allow parents to share care for their child in the first year, almost from the date of the child’s birth. In essence both parents will be able to trade standard maternity pay and leave which is just for the mother and take shared parental leave and claim shared parental pay instead, after the compulsory two week maternity leave period. Before taking the leave (an employee can make up to three requests to take leave) an employee will have to provide their employer with 8 weeks’ notice. Additional Paternity Leave for fathers will be abolished.

The scheme will also provide each employee taking shared parental leave with the right to take 20 ‘keeping in touch’ or KIT style days. Provided that the employee has not taken more than 26 weeks shared parental leave, he/she will also retain the right to return to the same job.

There is no doubt that this is a complicated and significant piece of legislation which will impact on how organisations manage their staff. Charity Backroom HR clients will receive a special ‘Focus on...Shared Parental Leave’ fact sheet explaining in more detail the specifics of the legislation and how it can be managed, as well as a ‘Shared Parental Leave Policy’ to introduce to their organisation.

Managing Sickness Absence

Another government initiative due to come into force in December (accessible from March ’15) is the new ‘Fit for Work’ Service. This will offer a referral service for GP’s and employers to provide a free remote, telephone based health assessment to employees after 4 weeks of sickness absence, as well as a ‘return to work plan’, case management support, advice and appropriate interventions.
Whilst this service is free for employers to use and could be a valuable support mechanism for small charities and SME’s, it does not look likely to replace the need for proper HR and Occupational Health advice when dealing with complex and long term ill health scenarios, particularly if formal action is being considered which could put the organisation at risk of costly litigation. Time will tell how efficient this government initiative will be, but it does have the potential to go some way to relieving some of the organisational burden of managing employee’s health issues.

Parental Leave

Changes to Parental Leave legislation is due to come into force in 2015. Not to be confused with Shared Parental leave, the current legislation allows unpaid time off from work for parents and carers with children under the age of 5 and 18 for disabled dependants. This is due to be extended to under the age of 18 for all, meaning employees who need to take a break from work to deal with family matters can do so even if their dependants are older.

Charity Backroom clients will receive an updated Parental Leave Policy template once the date is confirmed for the new legislation.

Want to know more?

Charity BackRoom, in conjunction with employment law solicitors Leathes Prior, can support all of your HR and Employment Law requirements. Whether you need HR questions answered, support with a restructure or support through a complicated employee relations matter, we can help.
Charity BackRoom offers a range of services to small and embryonic businesses in Norfolk as well as the not-for-profit sector, including Health and Safety, Payroll including auto-enrolment administration, electronic DBS and book-keeping services, as well as HR and Employment Law.

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