Your rights as a parent in the UK

Your rights as a parent in the UK

Whether you’re a new parent in the UK, or you’re looking to up your knowledge around your rights as a full-time parent or a parent in work, below is a guide for you. As a parent in the UK, you’re entitled to some rights and you should be aware of them. Read on to learn more about Maternity Rights, Leave, Breastfeeding, information on Adoption leave and more.

Maternity Rights

When you’re pregnant in the UK, you could be entitled to maternity pay and leave from your work. Maternity allowance is usually less than your current pay, but it will still be a sufficient amount to live on whilst you’re away from work. When you’re on Maternity Leave, you may choose to work some days either from home or in the office. If this is the case, pay can be discussed with your employer.

If you are not given your maternity rights, or you feel as though you have been discriminated against, there are steps you can take against your employer. Firstly, talk to your employer about your rights. If they still decline to provide you with your rights, you should then speak to your trade union. If you do not have one, you can speak to ACAS who can assist you further.

If you’re an employee, you will be entitled to maternity leave. If you are self-employed or work a zero hour contract, you will not be entitled to leave or pay when it comes to your maternity. At least 15 weeks before the arrival of your baby, you must tell your employer that you are pregnant, and when your baby is due. You must also inform them of when you would like to take maternity leave, and when you would like to come back from taking your leave. When asking for your maternity leave, it’s best to have your MATB1 form with you or to give it to your employer when once you have it. These forms are given to you around your 20-week scan.

What you will earn when on maternity pay and leave can differ. However, you can calculate how much you will be on from the citizen’s advice.

Paternity Leave

If you are a new father, you will be given two weeks paternity leave when your partner has the baby. If you have recently adopted a child, you can also take paternity leave for 2 weeks. In order to qualify for paternity leave, you must have had the same employer for 26 weeks, be the biological father of the child, be responsible for the child and have given your employer the correct notice. Notice periods differ depending on the company you work for, discuss notice periods with your boss before discussing leave further with them.

During paternity leave, you will be given statutory pay. Leave can start on the day your child is born or the day in which the child is placed in your car through adoption.

Breastfeeding Rights

When you have given birth, you will still have the same health protection as when you were pregnant. In the UK, it is legal to breastfeed in public, this rule should apply to many offices, however, this is down to the company. Discuss your rights with your boss before breastfeeding in public in order to avoid any unhappy situations with co-workers.

Shared Parental Leave

Shared Parental Leave is a right given to those who are adopting a child together, or who are having a surrogacy carry their child to term for them. Shared leave means that the parents can have up to 50 weeks off together, with up to 37 weeks of those paid by your employer. To be eligible for shared leave you must share the care of the child, have had the same employer for 26 weeks, and still be employed by the same employer at the time the adoption takes place.  The amount you are paid on share parental leave will be decided by your employer, and pay should be discussed when you tell your employer of your adoption.

Hospital Appointments

If you have worked for your current employer for over a year, you are entitled to take time off in order to look after your children. Up to 18 weeks is the amount you can take off if your child is below the age of 5, or under the age of 18 if the child is disabled. If you are pregnant, you are also entitled paid time to attend antenatal appointments, and for each appointment, you can take up to 6.5 hours paid time away from work.

State Pension Age to Rise Again

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any higher, a new report released for the government has revealed that state pension age could rise again, leaving many people without a pension until the age of 70, meaning we will have to remain in work for longer than ever in order to qualify. The new rules are likely to affect those in work at the moment, under the age of 30. A second report, also released to the Government has stated that those under the age of 45 may also have to work a little extra. Those expecting to receive their state pension at the age of 67 will now have to wait an extra year until they are 68. Both repoperson of state pension agerts are a little up in the air at the moment and it is thought that it will be properly decided later on in May when the government is due to make a decision.

It seems there are a number of factors that are contributing to the rise in cost of state pensions and it is something that ministers are now being forced to address seriously. Pension costs are rising due to things such as longer life expectancy, and the growing ratio of pensioners to people in work. The rise in cost may leave ministers with no choice but to push back the state pension age so that pensions remain affordable to fund. It is thought that at least six million people will be faced with the prospect of having to work longer. The news will be most distressing to those in their early forties who have perhaps planned ahead for retirement, only to find they will need to add another year onto this. Those that are 30 or younger will have the expectation of retiring at seventy reinforced, an extra two years later than the current age. It is thought that the state pension age could rise as soon as 2054 (although this is an extreme scenario). The current rise is the state pension age rising to 68 for those born after 1978. This rise is due to be put into effect by 2046 but could be brought forward to 2039, which will, of course, affect a wider range of people.

The Current Figures

State Pension Age, much to the annoyance of workers, has experienced significant raises in the past couple of years and it looks like it isn’t going to stop anytime soon. Between 2018 and 2020 the state pension age (currently 65) is set to rise to 66, closely followed by 67 between 2026 and 2028 and then to 68 by 2046. According to ministers, the reason for the gradual raises is to smooth out the process as well as trying to make the future both fair and sustainable for the younger generation. Whilst this may seem maintainable, the calls for the 2046 date to be pulled forward are getting harder and harder to ignore as state pensions become increasingly expensive (as mentioned above). New calls have called for the state pension age to rise over a two-year period – beginning in 2037 and ending in 2039.

At the moment, the State Pension Age is under ‘triple lock’ but there are fears that this protection could soon come to an end. The triple lock protects pension payments for rising in line with whatever the national average wage is at the time as well as inflation and 2.5%.

 

New offices around the country for HMRC

HMRC is currNew offices for HMRCently based in central London. The address for their current main offices can be found below:

100 Parliament Street
London
SW1A 2BQ

Although central to London itself, the government body has been criticised for not housing more offices or hubs for large cities away from London in the North of England. A plan released this morning shows how the government funded body aims to saves hundreds of millions in taxpayer money by opening regional offices and closing smaller central offices.

The main move for HMRC is the relocation of its head office to a site over 107 000 square ft in size in Bristol. Near Temple Meads station, the new site will house over 1500 jobs, with some moving from the London based office. This may see a rise in populous over the next few years in Bristol. It’s thought that the scheme, named 3 Glass Wharf, will create a multitude of jobs for the local area, serving as a means to end unemployment in the area.

The move is planned for summer 2019, with plans for more offices throughout the country expected to be announced in the coming months. Offices for Belfast, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Liverpool will all be agreed upon this year, with new offices already being signed for an HMRC hub in Croydon.

It’s thought that, overall, 13 hubs and offices around the country will decrease the amount of government spending by condensing work volume and spreading it throughout the country. The whole programme for this new development of offices and hubs is thought to conclude in 2025. It’s also an aim from HMRC is up to their service game. Recent surveys have shown that the government body is lacking in its ability to deal with large-scale cases and that a larger workforce would benefit the agency a lot more.

With over 50 000 jobs within HMRC and an expected 40 000 jobs to be generated by the scheme, it’s thought that service times and pension delays will speed up dramatically throughout the country, especially in areas with large HMRC hubs and offices.

A spokesperson for HMRC has stated that this development will encourage better workplace environments for teams in offices around the country, which, in turn, will encourage a better work life and speed of HMRC services.

 

Can I check my National Insurance contributions online?

National Insurance contributions are made by everyone in the UK, and allow you to qualify for other benefits such as the State Pension. You pay National Insurance contributions automatically if you are over 16, an employee making £155 a week, or are self-employed and earning more than £5965 in profits each year.Can I check my National Insurance contributions online?

Before you can make any National Insurance contributions, you need to have a National Insurance number. You can find your personal number on your payslip, p60, or letters about tax sent to your address. There are seven different types of National Insurance, and you are placed into the relevant band based on your job and income. Class 1 is for employees earning more than £155 a week, and their National Insurance contributions are automatically taken away from their paycheck each month. Class 2 is for those who are self-employed , and their National Insurance contributions are paid through their self-assessment forms, which must be filled out manually each year. To find out which National Insurance band you fall into, contact the National Insurance Helpline, who can help you with any query you have regarding your National Insurance contributions.

The amount of National Insurance you pay can be between 2 and 12%, and you must inform HMRC if you change your address and or start/stop being self-employed.  To check which National Insurance band you fall under, we advise ringing the National Insurance Helpline. For this, you will need some personal information such as your name, date of birth, address, and NI number. If you wish to check your National Insurance payment record, you can do so on the government website. Again, you will need to have some personal information ready in case you are asked for it. If you wish to check if you qualify for the State Pension, or if you wish to find out how much you could receive on the State Pension, you can also do this online. However, you will need a log in to do this. You can create a login by following the instructions on your screen.

Recent figures show that almost 80% of UK residents do not know how many years you must pay National Insurance contributions in order to receive the full State Pension amount when you reach State Pension age. This shocking new statistic also found that 57% of citizens estimate they only have to pay 10 years less than the minimum amount of years. It was also found that 33% of UK citizens did not know that taking long periods of time off of work, for example for maternity leave or sick leave, resulted in not being awarded the full State Pension amount. With 55% of the population critically needing to take this time off, more people need to be made aware of exactly what impacts their State Pension.

You must have made 35 years of contributions with you National Insurance in order to qualify for a new state pension, which is five years more than previous years. Those who have made lower than 10 years worth of contributions towards National Insurance may receive nothing at all in terms of a State Pension. Many have called for an update by the government on the rules regarding National Insurance contributions, and for the legislation to made easily and readily available. If you wish to check your current National Insurance contributions, you need a log in with the HMRC, you also need personal information on yourself to get the information. Surely there should be a service whereby you can check up on all of the information regarding your National Insurance, what it contributes to, and exactly what you will receive when you start receiving your State Pension with the government.

It’s thought a change in legislation, and the ability for it to be more accessible by the UK public, will enable more and more people to engage with their monthly payments and review their pension options. Many people rely on the state pension. However, if they have only been contributing for less than 10 years, they will see nothing from the government whatsoever.

Many have called for the UK public to check their National Insurance contributions, and start a private pension pot or fund. This way, you will you have a back up in terms of money to live on if the state pension somehow falls short when you reach state pension age. Many young people are avoiding the issue of their pension in favor of spending their money for short term gain. This tactic is believed to send the economy on a downward spiral in future years. Young people are now being urged to keep an eye on their finances and plan for the future, as it may be starting to look bleak very soon.

If you would like to check your up to date contributions, you can do so on the government website, or by ringing the National Insurance Helpline. You can also fill out a structured email with the HMRC, who aim to be in touch with all applicants within two weeks.

Unemployment Claimants Fall after Brexit

It was the vote that rocked the nation, but as the majority of Britain decided their country would be better off leaving the EU, fears and rumours surrounded the country about just what would happen once we severed our ties with the rest of Europe. One of the main issues up for debate was of course unemployment, an issue that has plagued Britain for decades , with many feeling that a Brexit would worsen the rate of employment, with experts predicting that employment would fall by about 9,500 after the results were announced. It seems that in true British fashion, its people have done their best to prove the predictors of their fate as wrong, and employment levels have in fact risen in the past few months. The results have been determined by the drop in claimants for the unemployment benefit Jobseeker’s Allowance with the claimant count falling to 763, 600, which is a huge 8, 600 in July and is the first monthly drop since February 2016. People at a new job after Brexit

It seems that UK unemployment has never been higher as for the past three months the average employment rate has stayed steady at 4.9% with the average weekly earnings rising by 2.3%, and imporvement on the previous 2.2%. The number of people not in work but actively seeking employment has emerged as 1.64 million which is the lowest it has been since March – May 2008, maybe Brexit wasn’t such a bad idea after all. Could it be argued that the fear for our economy after Britain left the EU has scared people into seeking employment? The huge rise in employment rate for 16-64 year olds is explained by the fact Britain has now left the EU, with the 74.5% employment rating being the highest it has been since 1971. It seems that speculation of a failing economy and a jobless Britain was nothing but that, speculation, as Britain thrives in its new (and improved?) environment. With two unfavourable factors that were predicted top come with a Brexit, proved wrong, could this mean that Britain isn’t in for as rough a ride as people first thought?!

Not over yet

Maybe not. UK economists are warning that we are not out of hot water just yet. The risk that Brexit poses to the economy, and the chances that investments will freeze means that employers are putting hiring on the back burner, meaning there are in fact going to be less jobs available in the upcoming quarter. Whilst some might opt to put a few hiring decisions on hold, some will completely stop headcount altogether. If there are no businesses to hire employees, then there are fears that this great rise in employment will soon come crashing back down. As much as it is important for workers to keep and find jobs, it is also understandably important that business owners take everything into consideration, including the rising annual wage prices which could have a huge effect if the post-Brexit economy is damaged yet businesses still decide to take on more employees.

Conclusively, as time goes on, it is becoming apparent that the bomb that David Cameron had warned was under the economy hasn’t exploded as expected as Britain are seeing little if any effects of a failing economy as of yet. Now we wait to see if it will appear.