What are the key employment law changes in 2015?
Laws, like fashions, are always changing. And Employment Law is no different. If you're in work as an employer or employee, here are some of the most important changes to the Employment Law that have already been launched - or which are planned for launch - in 2015 and beyond.
Employment law update
26 May 2015
Exclusivity clauses in zero hour contracts are now unenforceable. The financial penalty for failure to pay the National Minimum Wage will be 100% of the arrears owed to each worker to whom a notice of underpayment relates, subject to a maximum of £20,000 per individual worker.
5 April 2015
Parental leave: the age limit of the child is increased from 5 years to 18 years.
Maternity/adoption leave: other than the compulsory maternity leave and the first two weeks of adoption leave, may in future be shared and taken as "Shared Parental Leave".
Adoption appointments: a new right for sole/primary adopters to take paid leave to attend up to five adoption appointments and for secondary adopters to take unpaid leave to attend two such appointments.
Additional statutory paternity leave: is abolished.
26th June 2015
Changes will require children in England and Wales to remain in some form of education or training until the end of the academic year when they turn 18. This may be either full-time education, at a school or college; an apprenticeship or full-time employment (over 20 hours a week) combined with part-time education or training.
Also being rolled out in 2015 are new laws relating to managing sickness absence. In this case a health and work assessment and advisory service is to be introduced, offering free occupational health assistance for employees, employers and GPs. Note that this service will only be able to provide an occupational health assessment after four weeks of sickness absence have passed.
1st July 2015
Also coming into force is a new regulation that prevents claims of arrears of holiday pay from going back more than 2 years.
1st October 2015
In October 2015, the National Minimum Wage rate is to be increased and provides for workers aged 21 and over to be given £6.70 per hour. For workers aged 18-20 the new rate is £5.30 per hour and for workers aged 16-17 the rate is now £3.87. The changes also apply to Apprentices too and those under 19, or over 19 and in the first year of the apprenticeship, are to be given the basic minimum wage of £3.30 per hour.
In April 2016, a compulsory National Living Wage is due to be introduced and this applies to all working people aged 25 and over – this compulsory wage will be set at £7.20 per hour.
Looking further ahead to early 2017, there will be changes to the tax-free childcare scheme. These mean that families where both parents work, and each earns less that £150,000 per year, will be eligible to receive 20% of their yearly childcare costs of up to £2,000 for each child or £4,000 if the child is disabled.