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New Paternity Leave Regulations

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After announcing proposals to make changes to paternity leave rights in summer 2023, the government has now published draft legislation in the form of the Paternity Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024.

Under the current rules, new dads and partners can take up to two weeks’ statutory paternity leave on the birth of their child or adoption. This is paid at a statutory rate of £172.48 each week (to go up to £184.03 in April 2024). Leave must be taken in the first eight weeks and has to be taken as a single chunk of either one or two weeks. To be eligible for leave and pay, employees need six months’ continuous service.

The Regulations will apply  in all cases where the expected week of childbirth or adoption date is on, or after, 6 April 2024 and make the following changes:

  • Employees will be able to take statutory paternity leave at any point in the first year (rather than having to take leave in the 56 days following birth).
  • Employees will be able to take their two-week paternity leave entitlement as two separate one-week blocks (rather than having to take just one week in total or two consecutive weeks) although it must still be taken in whole weeks. This means that a new parent will be able to take statutory paternity leave in a variety of new ways, for example; one week when the baby is born and a second week after nine months when their partner returns to work; or  no leave when the baby is born, but two weeks after 10 months.
  • employees will only need to give 28 days’ notice of their intention to take paternity leave (reduced from the previous position that required notice to be given 15 weeks before the expected week of childbirth or adoption date.

There is also a tougher regime for declaring entitlement. Under the current rules, employers can ask the employee to sign a declaration that they are an eligible parent and that they want the leave for legitimate purposes (to care for the child or support their partner). The new rules say that employees must declare their eligibility and the legitimate purpose of their leave.

Employers may need to update any internal policies dealing with this type of leave, and people managers may need updating on the new rights.

Looking further forward, the Labour Party has indicated that it could scrap the six months’ service currently required to qualify for statutory paternity leave, so further change may lie ahead under a change of government.

For clarification on paternity leave rights or any other type of family friendly leave or pay for employees or guidance for employers on how such leave can be managed, please contact the Employment Team.

This article is for general guidance only. It provides useful information in a concise form. Action should not be taken without obtaining specific legal advice.
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    Written by Ruth Everitt