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Employment Law, the Basics......12th March 2012

Employment law is an area of law that is always evolving and most employers would likely agree it is not easy to keep on top of developments. We therefore summarise the current, standard employee entitlements as follows for ease of reference:

- Holiday Entitlement

Workers are currently entitled to 5.6 weeks annual leave, which equates to 28 days for a worker who is engaged in a 5 day working week. The 28 days can include public holidays observed by the employer or those can be awarded in addition to the basic entitlement, the decision is an employer's to make. Part-time employees are entitled to a pro-rata share of the entitlement based on the number of hours worked per week.

- National Minimum Wage

The current levels of minimum wage payable are:

Adults (21 or over): £6.08 per hour;

18-20 year olds: £4.98 per hour; and

16-17 year olds: £3.68 per hour.

These levels are all due to increase in April 2012.

- Maternity Leave and Pay

Women employees are entitled to a total of 52 weeks maternity leave - 26 weeks Ordinary Maternity Leave and 26 weeks Additional Maternity Leave, which must be taken consecutively.

In terms of Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) women employees are entitled to six weeks pay at 90% of salary followed by 33 weeks of SMP - the current weekly pay level for SMP is £128.73 (due to increase in April 2012) or 90% of the worker's average weekly pay, whichever is lower.

These provisions are the minimum entitlements to be provided but employers may elect to be more generous in either or both categories.

- Paternity Leave and Pay

Those who qualify for paternity leave (normally fathers) are entitled to 2 weeks Ordinary Paternity Leave and, in some cases (subject to certain conditions), 26 weeks Additional Paternity Leave. Normal paternity leave must be taken within 56 days of the birth of the child.

In terms of Statutory Paternity Pay, employees are entitled to the lower of £128.73 per week (due to increase in April 2012) or 90% of their average weekly pay.

Again, these are minimum entitlements but can be extended by an employer if desired.

- Parental Leave

In some circumstances, and provided certain conditions are met, employees are entitled to a maximum of 13 weeks unpaid parental leave to care for a child (the limit increases to 18 weeks in the event the child in question receives Disability Living Allowance). It is expected this maximum entitlement will increase later in 2012.

- Time Off for Dependants

All employees are entitled to take a "reasonable" amount of time off to care for a dependant (not necessarily a child) in the event of an emergency. There is no requirement for an employer to pay an employee for any such time off.

For further information on this topic or if you think a change in your employment contracts or procedures might necessary, please just contact us.

Last updated: 3.31pm, Monday 30th April 2012

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