UK: Employment Update: Spring 2003

Last Updated: 7 May 2003
Article by Karena Vleck


On 9 January 2003 the Government published the final version of the Flexible Working (Procedural Requirements) Regulations 2002 and Flexible Working (Eligibility, Complaints and Remedies) Regulations 2002. These Regulations will come into force on 6 April 2003 and create a duty for employers to consider applications for flexible working from employees who are parents of young or disabled children.


For many years, Inland Revenue practice has allowed professional sports people a special privilege of setting up tax-approved pensions, with a retirement age lower than the normal limit of 50.

The Government’s recent Green Paper on "Simplifying the taxation of pensions" includes a proposal to withdraw this concession (as well as raising the limit generally), so that professional sports people will, like the rest of the population, have to wait until they are 55 before they can draw a pension from an approved scheme.

The Government’s target date for bringing in the new regime is April 2004; though it may be that April 2005 is more likely to be achievable.

The practical result is that most professional sports people, on finishing their sports careers, will either have to move on to a second career – which, the Government points out, is what many of them do in any case – or rely on other types of savings, until they reach the new minimum pension age of 55.


Many of the new rights are dependent upon the expected week of childbirth ("EWC") falling on or after 6 April 2003. These rights will also apply to women whose babies are born before 6 April if the employee’s EWC is after this date but where the baby is born earlier than expected.

Changes from 6 April 2003






Total leave of up to one year: Ordinary Maternity Leave ("OML") of 26 weeks; Additional Maternity Leave ("AML") of 26 weeks, commencing once the period of OML ends.

Leave triggered if an employee is off work for a pregnancy-related illness in or after the fourth week prior to the EWC.

New statutory right to paid paternity leave from 6 April.

The new right is to either one week or two consecutive weeks’ paid paternity leave which must be taken within 56 days of the birth or the first day of the EWC, whichever is later.

New statutory right to adoption leave is intended to mirror, as far as possible, the maternity leave provisions.

An employee may start his/her Adoption Leave on the date of placement or up to 14 days before.


All employees, regardless of length of service will be entitled to OML.

Employees with 26 weeks’ service at the 15th week before the EWC will be entitled to AML.

All employees.

Available to employees notified of a match after 6 April 2003 or where the date of placement is after this date.

Eligible employees will be entitled to 26 weeks’ Ordinary Adoption Leave and 26 weeks’ Additional Adoption Leave.


Statutory Maternity Pay ("SMP") The first six weeks of leave will be paid at the higher rate of 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings.

The following 20 weeks will be at the lower rate of £100 or 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings (whichever is the lower).

SMP now available for pregnant employees who leave employment in or after the 15th week before the EWC, for whatever reason.

During paternity leave, the employee will be entitled to the benefit of all terms and conditions of employment except remuneration. Employers may offer enhanced payment schemes during paternity leave on a voluntary basis (for example, continue to pay the employee their full salary or half salary) but in the absence of such a scheme Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP) will be payable to employees with average weekly earnings above the lower earnings limit for National Insurance purposes.

The rate of SPP, from 6 April 2003, will be the lower of £100 per week or 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings.

Statutory Adoption Pay will be paid for the first 26 weeks of Adoption Leave at a flat rate of £100 or 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings, whichever is the lower.

The content of this article does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on in that way. Specific advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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