HELP YOUR PEOPLE – SPRING FORWARD
Welcome to our Spring 2015 newsletter – sharing latest legal updates and practical tips to spring forward your people business.
- Shared parental leave takes full effect
The right to take shared parental leave and receive statutory shared parental pay applies to qualifying parents of babies due on or after 5 April 2015. Some employers will have received requests for shared parental leave already.
Mothers can return to work early from maternity leave, or give advance notice that they intend to do so, and share untaken leave with their partner. The critical point for employers is that employees can take their shared parental leave as discontinuous periods, interspersing periods of work with periods of leave. They can also take leave at the same time as each other.
Shared parental leave applies also to adoptive parents.
- Adoptive parents’ rights are enhanced
Adoptive parents’ rights are to be more closely aligned with those of mothers taking maternity leave.
Currently, to qualify for adoption leave, an employee must have 26 weeks’ service with the employer. From 5 April 2015, this continuous service requirement for adoption leave will no longer apply. Further, the amount of statutory adoption pay will increase and adopters will be entitled to paid time off work to attend appointments to have contact with the child.
- Ordinary parental leave extended
With all the attention focused on the introduction of shared parental leave and pay, it is easy to forget that the right to take up to 18 weeks’ unpaid parental leave (which applies to employees with at least one year’s continuous employment) is being extended.
Currently, it applies to parents of children under five unless the child has a disability, in which case the age limit is 18. From 5 April 2015, it will apply to parents of children under 18 in all cases.
- Major changes to pension rights
There will be a significant increase in the flexibility around accessing defined-contribution or money purchase pensions savings. At present, in most cases, the only option for people in one of these workplace pension schemes is to purchase an annuity.
From 6 April 2015, individuals aged 55 or over will be able to access their pension funds flexibly, subject to their marginal rate of tax. There are different options in how they will be able to do this and it will still be possible to purchase an annuity or receive a pension from an occupational scheme, as under the current rules.
- Changes to national insurance
As announced in the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s 2013 Autumn Statement, from 6 April 2015, employers’ national insurance will not be due in relation to employees under 21. The exemption will apply to earnings up to the upper secondary threshold.
- Limits on unfair dismissal tribunal awards increase
Other employment law changes in April 2015 include increases in the limits in tribunal awards and other statutory rates. From 6 April, the limits on the amount of compensation that an employment tribunal can award for unfair dismissal increase. So the limit on the compensatory award and the amount of “a week’s pay” for calculating the basic and additional award will rise.
The rise in the limit on the amount of a week’s pay also affects redundancy payments. The maximum guarantee payment payable to an employee in respect of a workless day also increases.
- Statutory maternity, paternity and adoption pay increase
From 5 April 2015, the standard weekly rate of statutory maternity pay, paternity pay and adoption pay will increase. Statutory shared parental pay will be payable at the same rate.
- Statutory sick pay increases
From 6 April 2015, the weekly rate of statutory sick pay will increase.
Allowing your employees to feel and act as though they are a true partner in your company
- Share information generously. Employees can’t be fully engaged in their work if they’re in the dark or lack vital information.
- Address performance problems directly. Too often we ignore and let these problems fester and become toxic to the entire department.
- Empower employees by encouraging them to solve problems when and where they occur. Problems should be resolved at the lowest level possible within the organization. But solving problems when and where they occurs engages people and creates a culture in which people know they make a difference.
- Provide training and development. The best companies invest time and money in training their employees, knowing that the investment will be returned many times over in not only a more capable but also more loyal workforce.
- Share responsibility widely. There are many functions traditionally done by managers that staff/team members can take on or at least be involved in—setting goals, planning and scheduling, communicating with other departments, trouble-shooting problems, tracking performance, and so on. This doesn’t mean that leaders give up control of these areas. They remain involved by setting boundaries, providing training, monitoring how things are going, etc. But the more variety and responsibility people have in their jobs, the happier they are going to be.
- This is one of the most important skills leaders can develop. Employees have opinions and feelings which need to be expressed and heard in a safe relationship. If they can’t express their negative opinions and feelings then you can bet they’ll act them out in subtle, destructive ways. Listening takes time, but it also builds trust and ensures that you’re dealing with real issues and getting to the root of problems.
- Think “we.” The best leaders involve people. It’s not “I have a problem,” but “We have a problem.” Not, “What can I do?” but, “What can we do?” Not “My success” but “Our success.” They create a sense of shared ownership in everything that’s going on. This certainly doesn’t mean that every decision is made by consensus. But it does mean that people will perform better when they are involved in aspects of the business that impact them.
Our practice brings ‘big company HR thinking’ to the SME market.
If you would like to know more about how we can assist with developing the people section of your business please contact us
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