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Articles Employment 12th May 2015

Employment Review: May 2015 – Family friendly changes

In previous reviews we reported on a number of employment law changes effective as of 5 April, including the availability of Shared Parental Leave and the abolition of Additional Paternity Leave for babies expected or children adopted on or after 5 April. Other, less well-publicised, family friendly changes that also came into force on 5 April 2015 are as follows:

Parental Leave

Working parents may now take ordinary parental leave (not to be confused with Shared Parental Leave) any time up to a child’s 18th birthday. Previously it had been restricted to parents with children under 5, unless the child was disabled or adopted. The total amount of parental leave available per child remains 18 weeks, with a maximum of 4 weeks’ leave to be taken in any one year.

Adoption Leave

In respect of a child placed for adoption on or after 5 April, there is no longer any length of service requirement to qualify for adoption leave (previously employees needed 26 weeks’ continuous employment), however the requirement for 26 weeks’ service for statutory adoption pay remains.

Adoption Leave is also extended to: a) prospective parents in a surrogacy arrangement who intend to apply for a Parental Order within 6 months of the child’s birth, if the child was due to be born on or after 5 April; and b) local authority foster parents involved in the ‘Fostering for adoption’ scheme, if the child is placed on or after 5 April.

Statutory Adoption Pay

Statutory adoption pay is to be calculated on the same basis as statutory maternity pay (i.e. the first 6 weeks’ leave to be paid at 90% of normal weekly earnings with the following 33 weeks’ leave at the prescribed rate). Previously adopters had only been entitled to the prescribed rate for up to 39 weeks.

Availability of adoption appointments

Adoption appointments are available for both primary and secondary adoptive parents. An adoption appointment is an appointment arranged by the adoption agency for a prospective adopter to have contact with the child or for any other purpose connected with the adoption. For a primary adopter, the entitlement is to paid time off during working hours for up to 5 appointments and for a secondary adopter, the entitlement is to unpaid time off for up to 2 appointments.

For employers who have not already done so, now is a good time to make sure that their staff handbook reflects all of these recent changes and that any references to out of date practices and policies have been amended or removed.

The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the date of publication and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.

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