Changes to paternity leave finalised
On 29 June 2023, the government published its response to the Good Work Plan: Proposals to Support Families consultation, which outlined the government’s intention to make the paternity leave and pay legislation more flexible. The draft Paternity Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024 (‘the Regulations’) have been laid before Parliament and are expected to come into force on 8 March 2024.
There had been calls for statutory paternity leave to be extended to six weeks and for statutory paternity pay to be increased. The Regulations do not go that far, however, they do provide eligible fathers and partners with more flexibility than exists currently.
The current position is that eligible fathers and partners can take either one or two consecutive weeks of paid paternity leave within the first eight weeks following the birth of their child or adoption placement, provided they give notice by 15 weeks before the expected week of the birth of the child.
What are the changes and when will they apply from?
The Regulations will apply in relation to babies whose expected week of birth begins after 6 April 2024 and to children whose expected date of placement for adoption, or expected date of entry into Great Britain for adoption, is on or after 6 April 2024. The changes are intended to accommodate the changing needs of families and:
- allow fathers and partners to take their leave as two one-week non-consecutive blocks;
- allow fathers and partners to take their leave at any point in the first year after the birth or adoption of their child;
- shorten the notice period required for each period of leave to four weeks; and
- permit a father or partner who has given an initial notice to vary any dates if they give four weeks’ notice of the variation.
Employers will need to update their paternity leave policies to reflect the changes.
Despite shared parental leave being considered as part of Good Work Plan consultation, the government hasn’t announced changes to this scheme. However, it has confirmed that it is committed to looking at the barriers to people taking up the scheme.
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