Preparing for new HR laws: Paternity leave

  • Pay & Benefits
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Peninsula Team, Peninsula Team

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April changes are here - and what’s new for family entitlements?

On 6th April, certain elements of paternity leave changed. To understand what this means for eligible employees in your workplace, here are the new rules you’ll need to know…

What were the old rules on paternity leave?

Employees are entitled to a maximum of two weeks of paternity leave.

They used to have to take this leave in one go – which meant they could either take the full two weeks consecutively. Or, they could take one week and forfeit the other.

Employees also had to tell you the dates they wanted to take paternity leave at least 15 weeks ahead of their child’s expected birth. In adoption cases, they had to give notice within seven days of finding out they have a match. They then have to take their leave within the first 56 days after the birth or adoption.

How have the rules changed this April?

Under the Paternity Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024, employees have greater flexibility in how and when they can take paternity leave.

And while the amount of leave and eligibility criteria will remain the same, there are some new rules.

The first is that instead of having to take the two weeks consecutively, employees can take leave in blocks of one week. That’s if the expected birth week of their child is after 6th April 2024 or the expected adoption placement is on or after 6th April 2024.

Under new rules, your employee still needs to provide notice of their intent to take leave (15 weeks ahead of the birth or no more than seven days after the date they were told they’d been matched with a child). However, they don't have to specify their leave dates until 28 days beforehand.

They also have the right to take leave any time within one year of the birth or adoption date.

What do you need to do for expecting parents in the workplace?

From 6th April onwards, if any of your employees are expecting a child, you’ll need to make sure you’re ready to manage their new leave entitlements.

Employees will be able to take two separate weeks of paternity leave if they want to. And they’ll be able to take this at any point as long as it’s within 52 weeks of the birth or adoption. So, you’ll need to make sure your eligible staff are aware of their new right.

Does it change things if the baby is born prematurely?

If the expected week of childbirth (EWC) is after 6th April 2024, the new rules apply even if the baby is born before the expected date.

The actual birth date doesn’t affect your employee’s entitlement as long as the EWC is after 6th April.

Likewise, in the case of adoption, it’s the expected date of placement (EDP) that determines whether the new rules apply to your employee or not.

The same goes in the opposite scenario – where the EWC is before 6th April but the baby is born after this date. In this case, the “old” rules still apply.

Has paternity pay changed?

Statutory paternity pay rose on 7th April 2024. This rate increased from £172.48 to £184.03 per week. So, you need to beto start paying this new rate or 90% of your employee’s weekly earnings (whichever option is lower).

What do you need to do?

With changes to paternity pay and new rules around leave, you’ll need to make sure your existing HR policies and contracts are up to date.

Wherever there’s mention of family leave entitlements, your documents will need to reflect the latest legal updates.

Peninsula documentation experts are on hand to provide support with your paperwork should you have any questions or concerns.

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