There are a number of changes in April including the repeal of the statutory dispute resolution procedures, introduction of a new ACAS Code, changes to the right to request flexible working, and increases to statutory holiday entitlement, SSP and SMP.
Employers need to be aware of the changes detailed below and make appropriate revisions to company policies and procedures.
Right to Request Flexible Working
From 6 April 2009, parents of children aged 16 and under will now be able to make a request for flexible working. Employees still have to meet other criteria namely, having 26 weeks continuous employment, parental responsibility for a child aged 16 and under and not have made another flexible working application in the previous 12 months. Employers must also follow a statutory procedure when they receive such a request. However, it is important to remember that the employee only has a right to request flexible working.
Employees do not have the right to work flexibly. As a result an additional 4.5 million employees will be eligible to make a request for flexible working meaning that employers are likely to face an increase in the number of requests they receive. We have an article on the extension to the right to request flexible working in the next edition of our quarterly magazine The Works.
Increase in Statutory Annual Holiday Entitlement
The entitlement to statutory annual leave under the Working Time Regulations will increase from 4.8 weeks per year (i.e. 24 days per year for a full time employee) to 5.6 weeks (or 28 days per year) from 1 April 2009.
Employees who work part-time will benefit from a pro-rata increase. Employers can still include bank holidays in an employees' statutory annual leave entitlement.
Increases to Statutory Sick Pay, Statutory Maternity Pay, Statutory Paternity Pay and Statutory Adoption Pay
From 5 April 2009, the new rate of SMP, SPP and SAP is £123.06 per week.
From 6 April 2009, the new rate of SSP is £79.15 per week.
New P45 Form
The new versions of the P45 Form which were introduced in October 2008 must now be used from the 6 April 2009.
The pre-printed A4 versions of the new P45 are available now and can be ordered from Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs ('HMRC') (www.hmrc.gov.uk/employers). The new P45 Form includes details of the employee's date of birth and gender and is intended to assist HMRC match an employee's information with their records when the P45 Form is processed.