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Paternity leave is an ever evolving area of Employment Law which plays a huge role in ensuring that fathers and partners can be there during this significant life event.

Who is eligible for paternity leave?

The Law provides that paternity leave is available to employees of either sex for the purposes of caring for a child, or supporting the child’s other parent.

Employees must meet the following criteria:

  1. You are the biological father and expect to have some responsibility for the child’s upbringing; or
  2. The mother is your partner and you expect to have main responsibility with her for the child’s upbringing; or
  3. In the case of surrogacy, either you or your partner are a biological parent of the child and expect to obtain a parental order; or
  4. In the case of adoption, an adoption agency places a child with you and/or your partner and you expect to have main responsibility, with your partner, for the child’s upbringing; or
  5. In the case of fostering, a local authority places a child with you and/or your partner and you expect to have the main responsibility, with your partner, for the child’s upbringing.

In addition the employee will also be required to have been continuous employed by the Company for at least 26 weeks ending with the 15th week before the week in which the doctor or midwife expects the child to be born (Expected Week of Child Birth).

What has changed since 6 April 2024?

Since 6 April 2024 the statutory rules surrounding paternity leave have changed and are now more flexible for employees.

 

Rules prior to 6 April 2024 Rule post 6 April 2024
 

Paternity leave previously had to be taken within 56 days of the child’s birth or placement, or within 56 days of the first day of the Expected Week of Childbirth (if the child was born early).

 

Paternity leave can now be taken anytime in the first 52 weeks of the birth or placement, or within 52 weeks of the first day of the Expected Week of Childbirth (if the child was born early).
 

Paternity leave previously had to be taken as a single period of either one week or two consecutive weeks.

 

Paternity leave can now be taken either in a single period of either one or two weeks OR as two separate periods of leave of one week each.
 

Previously, employees would need to provide the start date for paternity leave by the end of the 15th week before the Expected Week of Childbirth.

 

Now, employees will only need to provide written notice of the start date for paternity leave 28 days before their chosen start date.

What can you do?

  • Clearly communicate the updates with your employees;
  • Encourage open communicate between employees, HR and/or managers;
  • Provide training for your managers on these changes;
  • Provide support and resources for your employees during this time;
  • Facilitate a smooth transition back to work following paternity leave, this may include offering flexible working arrangements; and
  • Ensure your policies/staff handbook are up to date in accordance with these changes.

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