Paternity leave changes

Have you got any employees who have children due on or after 3rd April 2011? If you do then you could receive a request for additional paternity leave.

Additional paternity leave is a period of up to 6 months which can be taken by the father of a child or the mother’s partner in order to care for a child once the mother has returned to work following their maternity leave. This leave can be taken once the child is 22 weeks old. However, there are formalities regarding notice and certifications of the mother’s return to work which need to be complied with. An employee will also have a right to return to the same or a similar job at the end of the leave and not to be subjected to any detriment or dismissed as a result of requesting or taking paternity leave.

An employee may also be able to claim statutory paternity pay, but only if there is some of the mother’s entitlement remaining. However, as the weekly rate to be applied will be just £128.33, the take up of this may be minimal. Employers can of course have a policy to pay over and above these amounts should they wish to do so.

Some organisations may see this new legislation as further disruption and an increase in costs to business. However it does have benefits; a woman on maternity leave can return to work sooner, it may provide more opportunities for the provisions of temporary staff and an employee may return refreshed and ready to face a new challenge. Costs of any statutory paternity pay can be offset against national insurance contributions in the same way that statutory maternity pay can be offset.

It would be advisable for organisations to have a paternity leave policy. Remember that it is not simply a request that must be considered, the employee has the right to take such leave, similar to maternity leave.

For any queries relating to maternity or paternity leave or issues, speak to Theresa Mimnagh or Anna Rabone on 01273 236 236