New Paternity Leave Regulations

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New Paternity Leave Regulations

Author: Laura Spence

Key Contact: Claire Knowles

After announcing proposals to make changes to paternity leave rights last summer, the Government have now published the Paternity Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024. This comes at a thriving time for family leave changes, following the announcement of the Carers Act, extension of protection of redundancy for employees on maternity leave, adoption, and shared parental leave, and the Neonatal Care Act.

The Regulations, which are currently in draft form, propose the following changes:

  • 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).
  • Employees will be able to take paternity leave at any time in the 52 weeks after birth (rather than having to take leave in the 56 days following birth).
  • 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).
  • Any dates specified for leave can be varied if the employer is given at least 28 days’ notice of the variation.
  • The employee must declare their eligibility and the legitimate purpose for their leave, rather than the employee merely signing a declaration provided by the employer.

The changes give new parents flexibility, allowing them to take paternity leave in a variety of ways, for example:

  • One week when the baby is born and a second week after 9 months when the mother returns to work; or
  • No leave when the baby is born but 2 weeks after 10 months.

The Regulations will come into force on 8th March 2024, and are likely to apply in all cases where the expected week of childbirth is on, or after 6 April 2024 (the same time other family leave changes come into effect).

Statutory paternity pay will go up slightly in April, to £184.03, but there are no plans to significantly increase this further. Employers maintain their discretion to provide enhanced rates, which they may wish to consider now, whilst things change.

Actions for employers:

  • Update paternity leave policies
  • Update managers on new rights
  • Consider what pay you wish to offer employees going on statutory paternity leave.

If you have any queries in relation to the new paternity leave regulations, or would like support updating your policies, please contact the Employment Team.

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