Changes to Maternity and Paternity Leave

Changes to Maternity and Paternity Leave Provisions
In April there were two changes to Maternity and Paternity leave provisions.
Fathers of children with an expected week of birth beginning on or after 3 April 2011 will be allowed up to 26 weeks’ additional paternity leave in the first year of the child’s life if the mother has returned to work from maternity leave.
On the same date, the rates for statutory maternity, paternity and adoption pay will increase from £124.86 to £128.73 per week

Taxation Changes
Significant changes will soon be made to the operation of PAYE on both payments made to employees following the termination of their employment and on the engagement of new employees who fail to provide a P45. From that date, employers will be required to operate PAYE on payments made using an ‘OT’ tax code which will require deductions to be made at the basic, higher or additional rates as appropriate.

Top Tips on Employment Contracts
You should make sure all members of staff are provided with an Employment Contract containing full terms and conditions as soon as possible after their start date – latest within eight weeks.
Regularly review all contracts to ensure that they take account of updates in employment legislation
Wherever possible, make sure that all employees sign their contracts. However, if they do not, but continue to work and are paid this clearly establishes the contract.
Ensure all appropriate clauses are included e.g. restrictive covenant, mobility clause to head off any HR issues that may arise at a later date
Ensure that the employee handbook is clearly referenced in Employment Contracts as appropriate and that it is accessible to all members of staff.

Rights on Flexible Working Extended
The right to request flexible working will be extended to parents of children under the age of 18 on 6 April 2011. It currently applies to parents of children under the age of 17, or 18 if the child is disabled.

Small Firms to be Given Three Year Moratorium on New Laws
From April small firms with few than 10 staff will be given a three-year moratorium on new employment regulations under plans unveiled by the Government.
At a speech to the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) annual conference in Liverpool, the Business Minister Mark Prisk announced a raft of changes aimed at cutting red tape and boosting the economy.
The Chancellor George Osborne later confirmed the move in his Budget speech on 23 March adding that it was part of the coalition’s ambition to ‘make Britain the best place in Europe to start, grow and finance a business’.

Government Equality Strategy: Building a Fairer Britain
The Government has a new approach to dealing with inequality in the UK through ‘transparency and behavior change’ beyond simply introducing new legislation. A reduction in the amount of new employment legislation will undoubtedly be welcomed by employers. A Ministerial Group on Equalities has been created to watch over the implementation of the strategy across the UK and to report annually on progress.
Some proposals of particular interest include the following:
With section 159 of the Equality Act 2010 being brought into force from April, employers will be able to “apply voluntary positive action in recruitment and promotion processes when faced with two or more candidates of equal merit, to address under-representation in the workforce”. Note this does not mean that quotas or positive discrimination will be allowed
There may be changes to flexible working rules as the Government proposes to extend the right to request flexible working hours to all employees
In an attempt to encourage shared parenting, the Government intends to consult on a new system of flexible parental leave. The idea is to grant all types of families the right to share parenting between them
Research will be published regarding lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality in the workplace. The Government will encourage and…

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