On Monday 30 March 2015, Parliament dissolved and the period of pre-election purdah began, meaning that the government will be unable to make decisions or announce policies if they are likely to have significant effects or be politically contentious in the run-up to the election on 7 May. However, there is still time for one more round of employment law changes to take effect in April 2015:
Shared parental leave
The new system of shared parental leave will be available to parents of children due to be born or placed for adoption with them on or after 5 April 2015.
With effect from 5 April, the requirement for 26 weeks’ service before employees become entitled to adoption leave is removed, and a new right is introduced for both single and joint adopters to attend adoption appointments together with protection against suffering a detriment or being dismissed in relation to exercising that right. Adoption leave rights are also extended to employees fostering a child under the “Fostering for Adoption” scheme.
Unpaid parental leave
Also with effect from 5 April, the current system of unpaid parental leave is extended to parents of children up to age 18 (currently only parents of children up to the age of five can take the leave).
On 6 April, employment tribunal powers to make wider recommendations in discrimination cases are removed.
National minimum wage consolidation
On 6 April, Regulations come into effect which consolidate the national minimum wage legislation.
These measures will bring to an end a five year period of significant change in employment law. What happens next depends on the outcome of the election but judging by the announcements already made by some of the main political parties, we can expect to see legislative proposals in relation to zero hours contracts, apprenticeships, equal pay and the national minimum wage. We will report on any developments as they happen on our On the horizon legislation tracker (pdf) which provides up-to-date information on key employment law changes and instant access to relevant legislation, including draft Bills.