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EMPLOYMENT ISSUES I MANAGEMENT MASTERCLASSES


015 is being heralded as the most significant year for parental rights since the introduction of maternity and paternity leave. Parents – both natural and otherwise, will be given more rights than ever before to take time off work in relation to their family plans.


Changes in Parental Rights 2


Shared parental leave is a new system being introduced for


taking time off when a baby is born, which will run alongside the existing maternity and paternity leave entitlements. If both parents meet certain eligibility criteria, they will be able to share almost one year’s leave between them, in a pattern that is decided; for the most part; by themselves. One of the criteria is that a baby must be due on or after 5th April 2015 for parents to qualify to take leave in this flexible way. An important aspect of the qualifying criteria is that both parents must individually meet their own criteria in order for the other parent to take shared parental leave.


Shared parental leave may also be taken by employees who are adopting a child on or after 5th April 2015, again subject to criteria. This is not the only legal change in relation to adoption entitlements. The requirement for an adoptive parent to work for their employer for at least 6 months before they become entitled to take statutory adoption leave will be removed from April, aligning it with the right to take maternity leave. Statutory adoption pay will also be increased for the first 6 weeks of leave to 90% of the employee’s wage, with the remaining leave being paid at the statutory rate (currently £138.18 per week).


Also in April, the entitlement to take statutory adoption leave will be widened to include intended parents who receive a child in a surrogacy arrangement and local authority foster parents who are prospective adopters. Employees who are adopting will have a right to take time off work to attend adoption appointments – one of the couple will be able to take paid leave, the other will take unpaid leave.


Parents will be able to take statutory parental leave (unpaid leave to be taken in blocks of one week in order to spend time with children) up to their child’s 18th birthday from April. Currently, it is only permitted until the child’s 5th birthday.


Statutory maternity, adoption and paternity pay is expected to increase to £139.58 from April, and statutory sick pay (SSP) is expected increase to £88.45.


Fast Facts:


Peter Done is Managing Director of Peninsula Business Services. His expert opinion is regularly called upon in his weekly ‘Business Doctor’ column in the Sunday Times and Peter is also an expert for The Telegraph Business Club. Peninsula has 950 employees with over 26,000 clients


• 1983 - Peninsula Business Services is set up • 1999 - Peter becomes a ‘Business Doctor’ for the Sunday Times


• 2008 - Peter is named Ernst & Young Master Entrepreneur of the Year 2008


www.peninsulagrouplimited.com


Although the following have not yet been confirmed, it is expected that the National Minimum Wage will increase from October 2015, and regulation over the use of zero hours contracts will be introduced.


Can I use social media to check up on my employees or vet potential staff before employing them?


esearch carried out by the CIPD has found that two out of five employers look at an applicant’s online activity or profiles on sites including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn during recruitment. A separate survey by Acas found that 40% of hirers would make greater use of social media in the future. With such wide use of social media during recruitment, and no specific rules on this, there is the potential for disputes and misuse.


R To avoid any challenges when carrying this out, employers


should make applicants aware at an early stage that these searches may occur during the recruitment process and information may be collected from these sites. Applicants have the right to protect the processing of their personal information, under the Data Protection Act, but it is likely that searches carried out to find information relating to the employment decision are unlikely to be caught by this, especially where they are carried out on the public sections of online profiles.


Looking at a candidate’s online profile is not unlawful but care should be taken to not be discriminatory in any decisions made from this. For example, if the ‘relationship’ information on Facebook causes you to not employ a person because of their sexual orientation this will be unlawful discrimination.


CIPD guidance lays out some helpful tips for employers who wish to use social media to carry out these kind of online searches. You need to take reasonable steps to check the accuracy of information received online and distinguish between social media for private and professional use – for example, information obtained from a professional LinkedIn site will be more suitable to assess the applicant than information on a completely private Facebook page. Only use social media searches to look at specific information rather than just a general fishing exercise.


Information to be looked at and collected should relate to the applicant’s suitability for the role i.e. personal capabilities, skills, education and experience. You should also make it very clear that an applicant will be given an opportunity to respond to material found online where it is being used as part of the decision-making process.


Employers should consider developing a clear policy on the use of social media during recruitment. Not only will this safeguard disputes over information being sourced but it will also allow those who are looking at applicant’s profiles to know what they can and cannot access, for example, which sites, what information and why.


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