firm news

Emma O'Connor
Emma O'Connor,
Changes to Family Friendly Rights
18 March 2015

New adoption rights

  • Paid/unpaid time off to attend adoption appointments

From 5 April 2015 both single and joint adopters will be eligible for paid time off to attend adoption appointments. This right, which applies only to employees and eligible agency workers, allows up to a maximum of 6.5 hours for each adoption appointment. The other adopting parent will be able to attend up to 2 adoption appointments unpaid.

Adopters will also be protected against suffering a detriment or being dismissed in relation to taking time off for adoption appointments. They will have the right to bring a claim if their employer either unreasonably refuses to allow this time off or refuses to pay them for their time.

  • Adoption leave – a “day one right”

Again from 5 April, the right to take statutory adoption leave will become a ‘day one’ right. This brings adoption leave in line with maternity rights. From 5 April, employees will no longer need 26 weeks consecutive employment to qualify for this statutory right.

  • Changes to Statutory Adoption Pay

Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP) is also changing to be calculated the same as statutory maternity pay. Gone is the flat rate calculation for the first 6 weeks of adoption leave. From 5 April, the first 6 weeks of adoption leave will need to calculated and paid on the basis of “average earnings” (the same as maternity pay). The remaining 33 weeks are paid at the rate of SAP.

  • Extension of Adoption Right

The right to take adoption leave is also being extended to parents who are adopting through a Local Authority “Fostering to Adopt” scheme and also to parents who are adopting a child through a surrogacy arrangement where they have, or expect to have, a parental order.

  • Rights to return to work

Again, any differences between maternity leave and adoption leave are being removed and an employee’s rights to return to work after taking statutory adoption leave will be the same as statutory maternity leave and will depend on whether the employee has taken ordinary adoption leave or additional adoption leave.

Parental leave

Not to be confused with Shared Parental Leave, Parental Leave can be taken in addition to maternity, paternity and adoption leave. The right to take Parental Leave is being extended to parents of children up to the child's 18th birthday. Previously, the right was for children up to their 5th birthday or 18th birthday if disabled. This distinction will go from 5 April. Also, when the new legislation comes in on 5 April 2015, the new Shared Parental Leave scheme will not affect the right to take Parental Leave.

Additional Paternity Leave

This type of leave is being abolished from 5th April 2015. Any employee who is currently on the scheme can continue to enjoy benefits; however, from April 5 no new employees can take advantage of the scheme.

For advice on these new changes and what amendments you need to make to your policies and procedures, please speak to us on 0118 952 7284. Next week we begin to focus on Shared Parental Leave changes.

Consistent with our policy when giving comment and advice on a non-specific basis, we cannot assume legal responsibility for the accuracy of any particular statement. In the case of specific problems we recommend that professional advice be sought.

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