The development of employment legislation is a prominent issue for all employers, irrespective of their size or specialisation. Whilst the legislation brings many benefits to employees and employers, organisations need to be aware of the various employment laws in place and how this affects each aspect of the HR function.
From employee benefits to changing pay rates and auto enrolment, it is critical that organisations stay on top of existing regulations, as well as those that are set to come into play throughout 2015. From a legislation point of view, the beginning of the year has been a busy time for HR teams, with the long-awaited changes to Shared Parental Leave and pay. Here is a quick roundup of the key employment law changes in 2015, and what they mean for HR.
Shared Parental Leave
As of 5 April 2015, both parents who work are now eligible to share 52 weeks of leave after the mother has taken a compulsory two weeks off following the birth of her child. This leave can be shared between parents or can be taken at the same time.
Recent research by ADP found that although one in three 16 to 34 year old workers say they would take advantage of this legislation, more than one in five HR directors are not ready for it[i]. This disparity between employees wanting to take advantage of the legislation and HR Directors preparing the workforce for it may cause problems for organisations, as they may be left unprepared for the changing employee demands and consequential workplace adjustments that must take place.
Statutory sick, maternity and paternity pay increases
From 6 April 2015, sick pay increased from £87.55 to £88.45 per week. Maternity pay, ordinary and additional paternity and adoption pay has increased from £138.18 to £139.58 per week. On top of this, employers must also consider amendments in national minimum wage rates, which will change from 1 October 2015.
With many changes affecting the payment of employees in various situations, it becomes more important than ever for HR professionals and organisations across the country to make sure they facilitate fair payments to their employees, which also align with the requirements of these legislations.
Fit for Work service
This scheme is set to be introduced within the next year. Employees who have been off sick for four weeks or more will be given free access to occupational assistance, which can also be used more generally in open-access occupational health advice. The Fit for Work service will also enable employers to claim up to £500 tax relief on their employees’ medical treatment.
In the midst of these changes, organisations must not bypass other employment laws that are essential to employees and maintaining a modern and fair working environment. If organisations fail to stay on top of existing and newly introduced employment legislations, they could face costly tribunal pay outs and severe reputable damage that could impact the very existence of the organisation. It is therefore more important than ever for HR professionals across the UK to consider these legal requirements and incorporate them into their strategies, now and into the future.
[i] ADP UK (2014) Workforce View 2014/15. http://www.adp.co.uk/workforceview/white-paper-2014-15