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10 July 2023

Government announces more flexibility on paternity leave

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Posted by: HRi

The Government has announced it will make changes to paternity leave in response to a public consultation.

The Government opened a consultation on reforming parental leave and pay in 2019 but it was delayed by the pandemic. The intention was to consider how parental leave and pay could be adapted to create greater equality in parenting whilst working. Their response to the consultation published in June (29/06) sets out the planned changes.

The current legislation allows eligible employees to take paternity leave at the statutory rate of pay. This can either be in a one or two-week block during the first eight weeks after a child is born or adopted.


More choice and flexibility around how and when to take paternity leave

The changes the government will be making will give employed fathers and partners more choice and flexibility around how and when they take paternity leave.

The changes will mean fathers or partners will be able to split their leave into two blocks of one week. This will provide more flexibility than only one block of one week or two weeks under the current legislation.

Fathers or partners will no longer be restricted from having to take their paternity leave within the first eight weeks of the birth or adoption of their child.  They will have the choice to take their leave and pay at any point in the first year after the birth or adoption of their child.

paternity leave - Father holding soothing baby

Image credit: Prostock studio via Canva

Notice of leave and pay

The new measure will also change the way an employee gives notice of leave and pay to their employer.  Fathers or partners will need to give notice that they intend to take leave 15 weeks before the expected week of childbirth (EWC) or matching/ placement date, and then 4 weeks’ notice of dates prior to each period of leave.

It is anticipated that these changes will make the notice requirements more proportionate to the amount of leave being requested. It will also create much more flexibility for both employees and employers which can only be a good thing for all involved. Whether these changes will help to increase the uptake of paternity leave will remain to be seen. Sadly, in times where pay equality is still an issue, for many partners/fathers it is actually more about the statutory rates of pay rather than the time they are permitted to take. Mums and primary adopters are eligible for 90% for the first 6 weeks of their leave, whereas partners/fathers are only eligible for statutory rates of pay. Potentially there is more to be done to bring true equality.

Full details of the parental leave and pay: government response.

It is also welcome news that three Bills have received Royal Assent. There is now a trio of new family-friendly employment rights.

Author: Charlotte Allfrey | HRi