Paternity Leave Changes to Look Out For

The Government has announced paternity leave changes after publishing draft regulations to improve working partners’ rights. This comes after many have criticised the poor paternity rights in the UK compared to those offered elsewhere. However, despite these changes heading in the right direction, one might suggest they aren’t enough.

Below, we explore what paternity leave changes the Government plan to implement, when they come into effect and what more needs to be done. We also answer some of the most asked questions surrounding paternity leave.

If you have questions about your paternity rights or believe your employer is in breach of them, contact us now. Redmans Solicitors are employment law specialists who could assess your circumstances and advise on possible next steps.

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The Government’s Paternity Leave Changes

Although eligible individuals are entitled to two weeks of paternity leave in the UK, we fall short of other countries. In France, those eligible can take 25 days of paternity leave, whilst in Norway, they can take 19 weeks. 

What’s more, eligible UK individuals must currently take their leave on consecutive weeks during the first eight weeks after birth. They must also notify their employer of their desire to take such leave 15 weeks before the expected childbirth week.

As such, the government has published The Paternity Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024, aiming to improve current rights. The paternity leave changes will allow fathers and partners to divide their leave into one-week blocks. This means they won’t have to take their statutory leave for two consecutive weeks, as currently is the case.

Furthermore, eligible individuals will be able to take their parental leave at any time during the first year. This provides greater flexibility compared to the previous timeframe of just eight weeks after birth. They will also only need to provide four weeks’ notice before each intended leave period, reduced from 15 weeks.

Therefore, it’s clear the paternity leave changes made by the Government aim to improve flexibility for new fathers and partners. However, one might argue this still isn’t enough to address issues with gender equality and shared parenting. 

As such, it could be suggested that paternity leave needs to be extended, like in other countries, to improve shared parenting. This could ensure new mothers get the support they need and stop women from being disadvantaged in their career progression.

When do the Paternity Leave Changes come into Effect?

The paternity leave changes put forward by the government will come into force on 8 March 2024. However, only fathers and partners of children whose expected birth week begins after 6 April will gain these new rights.

Paternity Leave FAQs

Who is Eligible for Paternity Leave?

In order to be eligible for paternity leave, an individual must:

  • Be legally classed as an employee
  • Have worked continuously for their employer for 26 weeks, by the end of the 15th week before the baby is due
  • Be the child’s biological father, adopter or intended parent; or the mother’s husband or partner
  • Give the correct notice
  • Be responsible for the upbringing of the child and taking the time off to look after them and their mother

When can Paternity Leave be Taken?

Currently, paternity leave can start anytime after a child is born and must end within 56 days of this date. The eligible individual can opt for one or two consecutive weeks of leave during this time. 

However, once the paternity leave changes come into effect, those individuals will be allowed greater flexibility. The two weeks of leave could be split into separate one-week blocks and taken at any time during the first year after childbirth.

What is the Correct Notice?

In order to take paternity leave, employees must provide their employer with the correct notice. At present, this stands at 15 weeks before the week the baby is due. However, again, the paternity leave changes will alter this requirement. Once such changes come into force, employees will only need to provide four weeks’ notice before each intended leave period.

Am I Entitled to Statutory Paternity Pay?

Individuals eligible for statutory paternity pay (SPP) will receive the lower of £172.48 a week or 90% of their average weekly earnings. SPP is available for up to two weeks, and to be eligible for it, individuals must:

  • Be an employee or worker
  • Have 26 weeks of continuous employment with their employer by the end of the 15th week before the baby is due
  • Still be working for their employer when their child is born
  • Earn a minimum of £123 weekly over an eight-week ‘relevant period’
  • Be the father of the child, adopter or intended parent; or the husband or partner
  • Provide the correct notice
  • Hold responsibility for the child’s upbringing and take the time off to look after their partner and child

If you have questions about the paternity leave changes, or paternity rights, or believe you aren’t receiving your entitlement, contact us now. Redmans Solicitors have years of experience helping numerous clients with similar legal issues. Also, we offer several funding options to ensure we meet your needs.

So, to begin your journey with us today: