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Work and Family Act 2006 – New Employment Rights

It is now timely to pick up on the proposals for new developments around the corner under Employment Law.

Maternity / Adoption leave

The following changes will be available for employees whose expected week of childbirth (EWC) or expected adoption date is on or after 1st April 2007.

  • Additional Maternity Leave (AML) The ability to take AML (which follows on from Ordinary Maternity Leave) currently requires a length of service to apply but this qualifying length of service is to be removed. Consequently employees will automatically quality for AML.

  • ‘Keeping in touch’ days and reasonable contact. This is a new idea whereby an employee (on maternity or adoption leave) can work for up to 10 days during statutory leave without losing statutory pay or ending the leave. As well as KIT days employers are permitted to make reasonable contact during leave to discuss provisions for return to work.

  • Notice of return extended. The period of notice that a woman must give to return to work early during maternity/adoption leave is extended from 28 days to eight weeks.

  • Small employer exemption removed. The exemption for re-employment of employees on maternity/adoption leave for employees with 5 or less employees is to be removed. In consequence, if the employee is prevented from returning to the same or a similar job at the end of additional maternity leave or adoption leave then it is an automatic unfair dismissal whatever the size of the employers organisation.

    Maternity and adoption pay

    SMP and SAP is increased from 26 weeks to 39 weeks and there is new flexibility in when SMP begins.

    Paternity pay and leave

    A father (or man/woman in single sex relationships) will be allowed to take additional paternity leave up to a maximum of 26 weeks and be paid SPP depending on whether the mother has used all or some of the SMP.

    Paid annual leave

    At present the eight bank holidays can be incorporated into the minimum four weeks paid holiday entitlement of employees.

    This is due to be increased to 4.6 weeks, which essentially means that a 5-day week worker will get 28 days holiday. However, the entitlement is to be capped at 28 days so even if the employee works 6 days a week he / she will still only be entitled to 28 days.

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