Paternity leave laws to change on 6 April 2024

Paternity leave laws to change on 6 April 2024
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Peninsula Team, Peninsula Team

(Last updated )

A key date for your diary is 6 April 2024 because yet another employment law change is taking effect on that day. Three laws are already set for commencement on this date: carer’s leave, removal of the 26-week service requirement for flexible working requests, and the extended protection for pregnant employees in a redundancy situation. Now changes to paternity leave has been added into the mix.  

Paternity leave is time off for eligible employees following the birth or adoption of a child and should be used to care for the child or support the child’s mother/adopter. It can also be taken following the birth of a child to a surrogate mother, where the employee and their partner expect to obtain a parental order. The employee must, therefore, be the father of the child, or the spouse, civil partner, or partner of the child’s mother/adopter.

Visit BrAInbox today for instance answers to questions like, what does an employee need to tell me if they want to take paternity leave?

Current paternity leave rules

Currently, eligible employees are entitled to take paternity leave in a single block of one or two weeks.  And if they only take one week, they lose the second. The leave must be taken within the first 56 days after a child’s birth or adoption. The employee must notify their employer of their leave dates no later than 15 weeks before the expected week of childbirth or within 7 days of being matched with a child.

The draft regulations that have been laid before Parliament for consideration are designed to give more flexibility in how paternity leave can be used. But there is no increase in the amount of leave – it remains at 2 weeks.

Changes to how paternity leave can be taken

If the regulations are approved, eligible employees will be allowed to split their leave and take it in two non-consecutive one-week blocks. They can also use it at any time in the first year after the birth or adoption of their child. So, an employee could take a week and instead of losing the second, as they would do pre-6 April 2024, they will be able to take it at a later date.

Employees will be required to give 15 weeks’ notice of their entitlement to their employer and the notice period they will need to give for leave dates will be reduced to 28 days.

Whilst the aim of these changes is to give more flexibility, it will be interesting to see whether practically it has any impact on employers. Most employees, for example, are likely to still want to take both weeks immediately after the baby is born rather than split out their leave. However, it might suit some employees to do so, and this change will, therefore, give them that choice.

Don’t forget that there will also be the usual increase to the family friendly rates in April as there is every year. The proposed figure for paternity pay, for those who are eligible to receive it, is £184.03 from April 2024, although we are still awaiting final confirmation of this.

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