Changes to Employment Law from 05 April 2015

It’s that time of year again when a number of changes in the employment law sector will come into force. Here are the 3 main changes that came into effect on 05 April 2015.

1.     Changes to Family Friendly Rights – This has been a topic of much discussion since 2014 when the Shared Parental Leave Rights came into force back in December 2014. Please see our featured article which outlines the details of this major change in more detail.  

Alongside this, there are also a number of other changes for working parents, as adoption leave will now be applicable to workers from the first day of their employment. They will no longer have to have accrued 26 weeks service before being able to apply for adoption leave. Note that this only affects the right to take adoption leave, not the right for that leave to be paid, as the worker must still accrue 26 weeks continuous employment before they can claim this.  

Expectant adopters will also be entitled to paid leave to attend appointments which are directly connected with the adoption of their child. The right is limited to a maximum of 5 appointments, which may last no longer than 6.5 hours each. Partners of an adopter will also be entitled to 2 unpaid period of leave, to parallel the rights of expectant fathers.

Ordinary Parental Leave has also been extended to 18 weeks per child, under the age of 18, regardless of whether they are disabled or not.  

2.     Changes to Statutory Rates of Pay – The following rate will be increased:

a.    Statutory Sick Pay from £87.55 to £88.45

b.    Statutory Maternity, Paternity, Adoption, Shared Parental Leave from £138.18, to £139.58

c.    Redundancy Pay from £464 to £475 per week (gross pay)

d.    Lower Earnings Limit from £111 to £112.

 

3.     Changes to National Insurance Contributions – Employers will no longer have to pay national insurance contributions for any employee under the age of 21 up to the higher earnings threshold (£815 per week).


In a recent Tribunal ruling, an employer was made to pay £2,000 in compensation to a Claimant on the basis that her line manager displayed a ‘predilection for Innuendo’ on a number of occasions.

The Claimants original complaint was for sexual harassment under the Equality Act 2010, which had led to her resigning from her position within the company. The Tribunal felt there was insufficient evidence to prove harassment; however they did rule that a number of incidents the Claimant raised were sufficient to demonstrate that the line manager’s behaviour was far from acceptable.

Some of the incidents highlighted by the Claimant were as follows:

1.    The line manager and another male member of staff recreating a famous scene from the film Ghost at an office Christmas Party. This was deemed to be suggestive but not sexually explicit.
2.    Comments relating to women as sexual objects rather than work colleagues both directly and indirectly to the Claimant.
3.    An incident involving commenting on the position of a female colleagues name badge, near to her breast. Again said in the presence of the Claimant.
4.    Advising the Claimant to wear a short skirt and low cut top to boost sales as ‘Sex Sells’.

The Tribunal noted that finding something to be unprofessional in nature, was not enough to make a complaint of harassment, however the combination of all the incidents reported indicated that the actions of the line manager in question were punishable.

The key here was that the Tribunal looked at the intention behind the line manager’s actions, and whether the intention was to degrade or intimidate the Claimant in any way, which the Tribunal deemed it wasn’t. However the Claimant was still awarded £2,000 for injury to feelings, and as such is a lesson in keeping tabs on ‘office banter’ and ‘tongue in cheek’ comments behind made in the workplace, as this case could have been much, much more costly.

 

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Published: 14 Apr 2015

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