Employment Law Update November 2014

Employment Law Update November 2014

EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE NOVEMBER 2014

Statutory right for fathers to take time off for ante-natal appointments

From 1st October 2014 fathers have the right to take unpaid time off work to attend ante-natal appointments with a pregnant woman that they have a ‘qualifying relationship’ with. 

A qualifying relationship includes:

  • Husband or civil partner
  • Co-habiting partner
  • Intended parents in the case of surrogacy.

An employee has this right to unpaid time off from their first day of employment.

As an employer you cannot ask an employee to provide evidence of the pregnancy or ante-natal appointments, but you are allowed to ask an employee to sign a declaration to say that they are in a qualifying relationship with a pregnant woman, that they are taking time off to attend an ante-natal care appointment and the date and time of the appointment.

The maximum time the employee can take off is 6.5 hours per appointment and time off is limited to 2 appointments.

From 5 April 2015 adopters will be allowed paid and unpaid time off work to go to meetings in preparation for a child to be placed with them for adoption.

Our recommendations

Review your family friendly policies and procedures to ensure they allow for this statutory right.
Make sure you are not discriminating against an employee who is taking up this right to time off.

New guide for employers on shared parental leave and pay

guide is now available to help employers implement policies on the new entitlements to shared parental leave and shared parental pay that will begin in April 2015, giving families more choice about how they look after their children

The guidance includes information such as eligibility criteria, how much shared parental leave and pay employees can take and when it can be taken.

Implications of the ruling about overtime holiday pay

You will no doubt have heard in the news about cases heard earlier this year by Employment Appeal Tribunal in relation to calculation of holiday pay.  The EAT released its decisions recently, ruling that voluntary overtime should be included when calculating holiday pay.

Four key points came from the decisions:

  1. Non-guaranteed overtime has to be taken into account when holiday pay is calculated.
  2. Travel time payments not covered by reimbursement of expenses should also be taken into account when holiday pay is calculated.
  3. The requirement to include overtime and allowances in calculations only applies to the four mandatory weeks’ holiday that must be granted within the European Working Time Directive.  It does not apply to the additional 1.6 weeks’ leave given to UK employees under the UK Working Time Regulations.
  4. Claims for unpaid holiday pay have to be made within three months of the underpayment (or the last of a series of underpayments).  If there has been an interval of three or more months between holiday periods, this will break the chain of any series of underpayments.

It is likely that that there will be an appeal to the Court of Appeal which means that there could be further developments on this.  The UK Government are to set up a taskforce to look at and try to limit the impact on businesses.

Our recommendations

Going forward, calculate holiday pay based on average pay in the twelve weeks prior to the holiday.
Consider reviewing your holiday policies and employment contracts to identify periods of leave that will be treated as the four weeks’ mandatory holiday (for which holiday pay must include overtime etc.) and those periods of leave that will be treated as the additional 1.6 weeks’ UK leave (for which holiday pay can be calculated under the UK Working Time Regulations)

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