All employees need to be aware of important changes to their rights, which are due to take effect this month. Perhaps the most significant changes relate to those who are about to become parents. The new scheme for shared parental leave means that working parents of babies born after 5 April 2015 will have choices to make about whether and how they want to share a year of leave between them. People planning to adopt will now be able to take paid time off work to attend up to five adoption appointments, each of which can last up to 6.5 hours. Another change to parental rights coming into force this month means that parents will be able to take unpaid time off work to look after their children aged up to 18 years. This change is significant, as previously the right had only applied to parents of children under five. Anyone taking maternity, paternity or adoption leave after 6 April 2015 will see their statutory minimum payments increase from the current £138.18 to £139.58 per week. Similarly, the weekly rate of statutory sick pay will increase from £87.55 to £88.45 per week. New minimum wage regulations also mean that, from 1 October 2015, employers will have to pay at least £6.70 per hour for those aged 21 and above. This is up from £6.50. Under 21s will no longer have to pay National Insurance contributions, which are usually deducted from pay at source by HMRC. Finally, anyone who takes their employer to an Employment Tribunal, and who is awarded compensation for unfair dismissal, will see an increase in the amount they are able to claim. The award is made up of two elements – basic and compensatory. The cap on “a week’s pay” for the purposes of calculating the award is to rise from £464 to £475, and so somebody who has been unfairly dismissed, for example, would now be able to claim a maximum basic award of £14,250. They will also be able to claim an increased maximum compensatory award of £78,335 (or 52 weeks’ pay, whichever is lower). Beecham Peacock can advise on any aspect of employment law. For further information call us on 0191 232 3048 or email

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