Changes to UK Paternity Leave Rights April 2024

Changes to UK Paternity Leave Rights April 2024

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Significant changes to the UK’s paternity leave regulations take effect today, applicable for any expected week of childbirth or adoption on or after 6 April 2024.

 

Changes to Paternity Leave Rights in April 2024

 

Following the Government’s response to a consultation on parental leave and pay in June 2023, the new Paternity Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024 introduce more flexibility for employees in how paternity leave can be taken:

 

a. Changes to the two-week entitlement: Employees will now have the option to split their statutory two-week paternity leave into two separate one-week blocks. Previously, the leave had to be taken either as two consecutive weeks or as a single week.

 

b. Flexibility in scheduling leave: Paternity leave can now be taken at any point within the 52 weeks following the birth. This is an extension from the previous requirement, which limited paternity leave to within 56 days post-birth.

 

c. Revised notice requirements: The notice period for taking statutory paternity leave has been reduced to 28 days. Previously, employees were required to provide at least 15 weeks’ notice before the expected week of childbirth.

 

d. Flexibility in amending leave: Employees are allowed to alter their specified leave dates provided they give at least 28 days’ notice to their employers, offering greater adaptability than before.

 

Implications for Employers

 

The updated guidelines enhance employee rights and flexibility, allowing new fathers more control over their leave arrangements. They align with a general shift towards enhanced work-life balance and gender equality, and mark a significant advancement in promoting shared parental responsibilities in the workplace and at home.

Employers should ensure compliance with the new regulations, updating policies, contracts, and employee handbooks to reflect these changes.

Communication of these updates to all employees is crucial, especially to managers and those who are new fathers or expecting soon.

The new paternity leave rights apply to fathers or partners planning to take paternity leave for children expected to be born or adopted after 6 April 2024. For employees who applied for paternity leave before the changes, transitional arrangements may be needed if the relevant terms differ to the new rules.

It is also advisable to review and streamline your organisation’s paternity leave request process to accommodate the new flexibility regarding leave periods and notice requirements. If not already in place, implementing an online system could simplify the application process and provide a clear record.

 

Need assistance?

 

For specialist advice on the new rules and how they impact your organisation, contact employment law and HR experts.

 

Paternity Rights FAQs

 

What are the key changes to Paternity Leave?

Fathers now have more flexibility; they can take their two weeks of leave in separate one-week blocks, and they have a longer window to claim it – up to 52 weeks after the birth or adoption (previously 15 weeks).

 

How does this affect the notice period?

The notice period for fathers is now 28 days (previously 15 weeks). Fathers can also change their leave dates with at least 28 days’ notice (previously not possible).

 

What should we update in our company policies?

Ensure your policies reflect these changes, including the new flexibility for leave periods, extended eligibility window, and updated notice requirements.

 

How can we support fathers taking Paternity Leave?

Clearly communicate the new rights to employees. Promote a work-life balance culture and consider offering flexible work options upon return from leave.

 

What about existing leave arrangements?

Transitional arrangements might apply for employees who applied for leave before 6 April 2024.

 

Last updated: 6 April 2024

Author

Founder and Managing Director Anne Morris is a fully qualified solicitor and trusted adviser to large corporates through to SMEs, providing strategic immigration and global mobility advice to support employers with UK operations to meet their workforce needs through corporate immigration.

She is a recognised by Legal 500 and Chambers as a legal expert and delivers Board-level advice on business migration and compliance risk management as well as overseeing the firm’s development of new client propositions and delivery of cost and time efficient processing of applications.

Anne is an active public speaker, immigration commentator, and immigration policy contributor and regularly hosts training sessions for employers and HR professionals

About DavidsonMorris

As employer solutions lawyers, DavidsonMorris offers a complete and cost-effective capability to meet employers’ needs across UK immigration and employment law, HR and global mobility.

Led by Anne Morris, one of the UK’s preeminent immigration lawyers, and with rankings in The Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners, we’re a multi-disciplinary team helping organisations to meet their people objectives, while reducing legal risk and nurturing workforce relations.

Legal Disclaimer

The matters contained in this article are intended to be for general information purposes only. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the law, and should not be treated as such. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct at the time of writing, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and no liability is accepted for any error or omission. Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert legal advice should be sought.

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