Changes to Paternity Leave are on the way which will give fathers or partners the ability to divide their statutory leave into blocks.
The Paternity Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024 will come into force on 8 March but will only apply to children who are expected to be born after 6 April.
The key changes are as follows:
- Fathers or partners will be able to split the statutory paternity leave into one week blocks, rather than take it all at once
- Leave can be used any time during the first year rather than the first 8 weeks after birth or placement for adoption
- The notice period will be reduced down to 4 weeks instead of the current 15 weeks to notify their employer of intent to take paternity leave
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Our thoughts on the paternity leave changes
These changes will go a small way to providing fathers with better provision for when a new baby comes along. Currently, new fathers are entitled to take 2 weeks leave within 8 weeks of childbirth.
The two weeks must be taken as a block, or fathers can take just one week instead. These amendments will allow fathers to split the leave and take it within the first year. This clearly provides greater flexibility, and means that those fathers who aren’t able to take two weeks at once don’t lose out.
But is it really the change that new families want or need?
Many, understandably, would prefer as much time off as possible immediately following birth/adoption.
It isn’t unusual for new fathers to add holiday onto their 2 weeks paternity leave so that they have at least a month, if not more, at home to spend as a new family. That’s great for those who work for understanding and flexible employers, but not all employers are so amenable, and fathers can sometimes feel pressure not to take more time off than their legal entitlement.
What we really need is to take a leaf out of Sweden’s book, who provide 90 days paid paternity leave as well as a whole host of other generous family related rights. It’s part of the much bigger picture of equality – we can’t expect to fully get there when the rights for men and women when it comes to family care are so imbalanced.
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