Government Response on Paternity Leave

Samer Cheaitou
Samer Cheaitou
Trainee Solicitor
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The UK Government has recently published its response to the Good Work Plan’s proposals for reforming family-related leave and pay issued following a consultation on the matter in 2019. The response has detailed several significant changes that it intends to make to paternity leave in the near future, as outlined below.

Currently, employed fathers and partners who are eligible for paternity leave (PL) and Statutory Paternity Pay have a one-off right to take either one or two consecutive weeks of paid leave in relation to the birth of a child or placement for adoption. The Government is proposing to amend this so that fathers and partners will be entitled to take PL and pay in two separate blocks, for one week at a time (two weeks in total). This change is being proposed with a view to providing more flexibility and making PL and pay more accessible to fathers and partners.

Under the current rules, PL must be taken within 8 weeks (56 days) of the birth of the child or placement of the child for adoption. The Government’s response proposes to reform this to allow fathers and partners to take their PL and pay at any point in the first year following the birth or placement for adoption. It is hoped this may provide fathers and partners with the opportunity to solo parent after the mother has returned to work.

The final change set out in the Government’s response concerns notice requirements for PL and pay. Currently, fathers are required to notify their employer of their PL dates by at least 15 weeks before the expected week of childbirth or placement. The proposal is to adjust this so that they are only required to give notice of their intention to take PL 15 weeks before birth/placement and can then confirm the dates on which they intend to take PL 28 days before each period of PL.

The consultation had also urged the Government simplify the current complex scheme relating to Shared Parental Leave (SPL), highlighting the current low-uptake rates. However, the Government is not proposing to make any changes to the SPL regime at this time.

The Government has not committed to any timescale for implementation of these changes at this stage, but we shall keep you updated as these intended changes move through the legislative process.

For more information, the full Government response can be accessed here.

If you would like to discuss the implications of the proposed changes to paternity leave, or if we can provide any other support or assistance on any other employment law matters, please do not hesitate to contact a member of the team on 0141 331 5150

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