Extension to Paternity Rights to Proceed
In our previous update on this topic we reported that plans to give fathers six months’ paternity leave had been suspended. This has now changed and the Government is now consulting on new Regulations for parents of children due on or after 3 April 2011. Under the planned Regulations
1. Mothers will have the choice to transfer up to six months leave to fathers should they want to, which can be taken by fathers after the mother has returned to work.
2. The new provision will be available during the second six months of a child’s life providing parents the option of dividing a period of paid leave entitlement between them.
3. Some of the leave may be paid if taken during the mother’s 39 week maternity pay period. This would be paid at the same rate as Statutory Maternity Pay (currently £123.06) and;
4. Parents will be required to ‘self certify’ by providing details of their eligibility to their employer.
Employed fathers are currently entitled to two weeks paid paternity leave and mothers to 52 weeks maternity leave, of which up to 39 weeks are paid. Employed parents are also entitled to a total of 13 weeks unpaid parental leave until the child’s fifth birthday. Parents of children aged 16 and under have the right to request flexible working. These rights will not be affected by the introduction of additional paternity leave.
Childcare Vouchers to Lose National Insurance Exemption
The Government has announced that it will remove the tax and national insurance contribution exemptions for childcare vouchers provided by employers from April 2011. Existing recipients of Childcare vouchers will be unaffected until April 2015 when the exemptions for vouchers will be withdrawn completely.
Tips and the National Minimum Wage
Following a Court of Appeal decision earlier this year, the effect of tips (and other gratuities) when calculating the minimum wage changes ,made on 1st October, means they can no longer be included in this calculation.
Extension to Paternity Leave Rights Suspended
Plans to give fathers six months paternity leave have been suspended by the government to help employers during the recession. Under current legislation, fathers can take either one or two weeks’ paternity leave, providing they meet specified conditions.
Extended Statutory Maternity Pay Suspended
Plans to extend statutory maternity pay or SMP from 39 to 52 weeks have been suspended as a result of the current recession.
Long-term Sickness & Holiday Pay
Following the HM Revenue & Customs v Stringer case, the House of Lords following referral to the European Court of Justice has determined that employees including those on long-term sick leave who have a claim for unpaid annual leave under the Working Time Regulations 1998 are entitled to bring claims before an employment tribunal not only under these Regulations 1998, but also under section 13 of the Employment Rights Act 1996, which provides employees with the right not to have unlawful deductions made from their salaries. The EJC concluded that the right to paid annual leave continues to accrue during sick leave and on termination of the employment relationship, an employee who has been on sick leave and unable to take paid annual leave is entitled to a payment in lieu.
Right to Request Time off Work for Training
A new right to request time off to undertake training is to be introduced which is to be modelled on the current right to request flexible working which will be available to employees that have been continuously employed for at least 26 weeks.
Employees will be able to request any training that will help them to be more productive and effective at work, and help their employer to improve productivity and business performance and will be allowed to make one request in any 12 month period.
Employers will be obliged to consider any requests made but will be able to do so provided there are good business reasons for doing so. There will be no obligation on employer to fund such requests.
Redundancy Pay to Increase
In the Budget on 22 April 2009, the Government announced a ‘one off’ increase in the maximum week's pay that can be taken into account when calculating a statutory redundancy payment from £350 to £380. The maximum statutory redundancy payment that an employee can receive will increase from £10,500 to £11,400. This increase is expected to come into force on 1st October 2009.
48 Hour Opt Out to Remain
There has been no agreement on the issue of Britain’s ability to opt out of the 48 hour week. As a result, employees will be able to continue to work more than 48 hours a week if they choose to do so.
Minimum Wage Rate to Increase
With effect from 1st October 2009, National Minimum Wage Rates increase as follows:
The main adult rate- £5.73 to £5.80 per hour
The rate for 18 to 21 year olds - £4.77 to £4.84
The rate for 16 to 17 year olds - £3.53 to £3.57
Right to request flexible working to be extended
Flexible working request rights are extended in April to all parents of children up to the age of 16 (or disabled children under the age of 18) or who have adult dependents. Employees must have at least 26 weeks' continuous service with their employer to qualify.
Statutory Holiday Entitlement Increases
The statutory holiday entitlement is increasing again. The holiday entitlement increased to 4.8 weeks from 1st October 2007 and increases to 5.6 weeks from 1st April 2009 (pro rata for part-timers).
Additional restrictions on appointing foreign workers
From 1st April employers seeking candidates from outside the EU must advertise skilled vacancies (Tier 2 jobs e.g. in engineering, IT and construction) through JobCentre Plus for at least 2 weeks. Currently, employers must advertise job vacancies in the UK for 2 weeks before advertising overseas. Employers will receive letters confirming their advert and allowing them to apply for certificates of sponsorship with the UK Borders Agency, enabling them to hire non-EU staff. Employers breaking the new rules could have their licence to employ non-EU migrants revoked and be fined up to £10,000 for each illegal employee.
As from 1st April, Tier 1 highly skilled workers will require a master's degree (previously a Bachelor’s Degree) and receive an annual salary of at least £20,000. The Tier 3 (temporary shortage areas) has already been suspended.
Maternity, Adoption & Paternity Pay Rates to Increase
The amount of Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) payable to an employee for payment weeks starting on or after Sunday 5th April 2009 is a maximum of 39 weeks as follows:
- First six weeks of payment - 90% per cent of the employee's Average Weekly Earnings with no upper limit.
- Up to 33 weeks’ pay at the standard rate which increases from £117.18 to £123.06 a week or at 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings where the employee is paid less than £123.06 per week.
The weekly rate of Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP) and Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP) for payments starting on or after 5th April 2009 increases from £117.18 to £123.06 or at 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings where the employee is paid less than £123.06 per week.
Health & Safety Offences Act 2008
Without much fanfare, The Health & Safety Offences Act 2008 came into force in January which increased penalties and provides courts with greater sentencing powers for individuals infringing health and safety law. In future, breaches of regulations become criminal matters and the power of lower courts to impose fines increases from £5,000 to £20,000 for health and safety offences.