A range of employment changes are set to come into effect in 2015. Employers need to familiarise themselves with these changes to ensure they are processing payroll correctly.
Some of the most significant changes to be aware of include:
1. Family Friendly Changes
a. Shared Parental Leave & Pay
This is brand new legislation which will apply to parents with babies due to be born/placed for adoption on or after 5th April 2015. Eligible parents will have the flexibility to share statutory leave and statutory pay in the child’s first year. Under the legislation, leave and pay may be taken in discontinuous blocks, and also both parents may take leave and be in receipt of statutory pay at the same time. Whilst using payroll software will ease the burden of processing shared parental leave and pay, there is a rigorous application process that must be completed by employees. To be sure you are ready, employers are well advised to familiarise themselves with the regulations early. Further details are available here.
b. Changes to Statutory Adoption Leave & Pay
From 5 April 2015 there will be no service requirement in order for employees to be eligible to take adoptive leave. Additionally, from 5 April 2015 the Statutory Adoption Pay rates will increase; the first 6 weeks will be paid at 90% of average weekly earnings. After that SAP will be paid at the lower of either the weekly standard rate or 90% of average weekly earnings. This will mirror the Statutory Maternity Pay rates.
Finally, primary adopters will now be entitled to paid time off to attend up to five adoption appointments.
c. Rise of child’s age limit for parental leave
The current right to take 18 weeks’ unpaid parental leave before a child’s 5th birthday is to be extended from 5 April 2015, so that leave can be taken up to the child’s 18th birthday.
2. Automatic Enrolment
Auto Enrolment will continue to be rolled out to all employers. Every UK employer has a date on which workplace pensions automatic enrolment applies to them, i.e. a staging date. For most employers that had between 30 and 58 staff on 1st April 2012 their staging date will be during 2015. However staging dates can vary, so employers are well advised to check out their staging date on the Pensions Regulator site http://www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/employers/tools/staging-date.aspx
3. New Fit for Work Service
Due to be rolled out during the year, the Fit for Work Service will offer employers access to free occupational assistance for employees who have been off sick for four weeks or more. Employers will also be able to claim up to £500 tax relief on payments for medical treatment for their employees where the treatment has been recommended under the new scheme.
4. Statutory Pay Rates
The usual shifts in statutory rates of pay are scheduled for 2015. Rates for statutory maternity, paternity, and adoption pay will increase from 5 April 2015, as too will statutory sick pay rates. Any changes to the national minimum wage rates will be effective from 1 October 2015.
5. NIC and Under 21s
The abolition of employer NICs for Under 21s comes in to effect from 6th April 2015. Employers will not be required to pay Class 1 secondary NICs on earnings up to £815 per week, for employees who are under the age of 21. Class 1 secondary NICs will continue to be payable on all earnings in excess of £815 per week. This could result in savings to an employer of up to £90 per week for hiring an employee who is under 21!