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Changes to Employment Legislation 2015

There are a number of changes being implemented within employment legislation in 2015, including an implementation of a fit for work scheme, an update to pension legislation, new rules regarding parental leave and shared parental leave and an increase to statutory adoption pay.

Fit for work scheme
Date to be implemented:  April 2015

The Government are introducing a Fit to Work scheme. This scheme is aimed at reducing sickness and absence and getting employees back to work more quickly.

How it works

After four weeks of sick leave, provided that there is a reasonable chance of the employee returning to work, doctors and employers will be able to refer employees for an occupational health assessment. This is to assist employees return to work. A referral can only be made with the employee’s consent.

Note for employers

The employers will receive tax redemption of up to £500 per year on each employee for medical treatment recommended by Fit for Work, to help their employees return.

Pension date
Date to be implemented: April 2015

To date employees who save using a pension scheme have always been entitled to take 25% of their pension in a tax free lump sum.

From April 2015, employees saving with pensions aged over 55, will be given the option of taking a number of smaller lump sums instead of one single large lump sum.  In each case, 25% of the lump sum will be tax free.

These changes will be of benefit to those who have built up a large pension pot. They will now be able to avoid paying 40% tax when drawing from the pot.

Parental Leave
Date to be implemented: December 2014

Currently, employees can take time off work to look after a child and this leave can be taken up to the child’s 5th birthday.  This age limit will be increased to 18 years in April 2015. This means that parental leave can be taken until the child’s 18th birthday.


  • Employees must have completed one years’ service with the employer.
  • Employees will need to request leave, giving 21 days notice before the start date. This notice can be requested to be in writing.

Note for employers

Parental leave should be taken in blocks of one week or weeks unless it is agreed with the employer  that the leave can be taken in single days, or the child is disabled.  Employers do not have to allow employees random days off because of this right. The employee will only be allowed to take 4 weeks in any year.

Parental leave is not the same as shared parental leave and shouldn’t be confused with shared parental leave. For shared parental leave information, please see below.

Shared Parental Leave dated April 2015

This new right enables eligible mothers, fathers, partners, and adopters to share time off work to look after their child, when the child is born or placed for adoption. It provides more flexibility to parents, when sharing the care of their child in the first year following birth or adoption.

The right applies to parents meeting the eligibility criteria where a baby is due to be born or after 5th April 2015 and applies to children who are placed for adoption on or after that date.

Mothers will still take the first two weeks off maternity to qualify for shared parental leave.  To be eligible one parent must be an employee and pass the Continuity of Employment test.

The other parent in the family must meet the employment and earnings test, which are as follows:

  • Continuity of employment:
    One parent must have worked for the same employer for at least 26 weeks at the end of the 15th week before the week in which the child is due and is still employed in the first week that shared parental leave is to be taken.
  • Employment and earnings test:
    The other parent must have worked for 26 weeks and in the 66 weeks leading up to the due date and above the maternity allowance threshold of £30.00 a week in 13 of the 66 weeks.

Shared parental leave can be taken at any time from when the child is born, or the date of placement, and ends 52 weeks after that date.

Statutory Adoption Leave and pay

The government is changing is statutory adoption and pay. From 5th April 2015, the rate of statutory adoption will be £139.56. This will bring adoption pay into line with maternity pay.

This article was last modified on 5th February 2015 and was correct as of this date. However, for expert advice in connection with the matter, please contact our Employment Law Department on 024 76229582 or email

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