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April 2015: family friendly changes to employment law

This month saw the start of the new tax year and several key changes to employment law coming into force. In particular 5 April saw the introduction of a number of enhanced family friendly entitlements. 

Shared parental leave

The most significant change is the introduction of 'Shared Parental Leave' (SPL). The new system of SPL is available to parents of children due to be born or placed for adoption on or after 5 April 2015. Eligible employees are entitled to a maximum of 52 weeks' leave and 39 weeks' statutory pay upon the birth or adoption of a child. As the name suggests, these entitlements can be shared between the parents.

Under the scheme, new mums (or primary adopters) are able to end their maternity or adoption leave and share the untaken leave with the other parent as SPL. This enables them to return to work before the end of their leave without sacrificing the rest of the leave that would otherwise be available to them. SPL can be taken by both parents separately or at the same time provided that the total time taken does not exceed their joint entitlement. SPL may also be taken in discontinuous blocks, meaning that, for example, a new mother could take a number of blocks of SPL whilst returning to work in between.

Enhanced adopter rights

  • Adopters benefit from the following increased rights:
  • Employees are no longer required to have 26 weeks' service with an employer before becoming entitled to adoption leave.
  • Adopters now have the right to attend adoption appointments and are protected from suffering any detriment or being dismissed in relation to exercising that right.
  • Statutory adoption pay has been brought into line with statutory maternity pay.
  • Adoption rights have been extended to couples adopting a child from outside the UK and couples fostering children as part of a Fostering for Adoption placement.

Unpaid parental leave

Parents are now entitled to take unpaid parental leave at any time before the child's eighteenth birthday (increased from the previous date of the child's fifth birthday).

This publication is intended for general guidance and represents our understanding of the relevant law and practice as at April 2015. Specific advice should be sought for specific cases; we cannot be held responsible for any action (or decision not to take action) made in reliance upon the content of this publication.

TLT LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England & Wales number OC 308658 whose registered office is at One Redcliff Street, Bristol BS1 6TP England. A list of members (all of whom are solicitors or lawyers) can be inspected by visiting the People section of this website. TLT LLP is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority under number 406297.

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