Recently, the government announced proposals to enable fathers to take more leave during the first year of their child’s life by allowing the mother to return to work after just a fortnight following the child’s birth.
Under existing rules, mothers can transfer up to six months of their additional maternity leave, and any remaining entitlement to Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP), to the father, subject to certain eligibility criteria being complied with.
Under the new proposals, the father would be able to take the majority of the maternity leave available, and claim state benefits for this. However, the right to take maternity leave and claim maternity benefits will still automatically be the mother’s unless she makes the conscious decision to transfer this to the father.
The scheme is due to be unveiled in early 2013 in a Children and Families Bill scheduled to be presented to Parliament.