Doubts had been raised that implementation of the Additional Paternity Leave Regulations 2010, which were passed by the previous Government shortly before the May 2010 General Election, would not proceed as planned. However, the Coalition Government has now announced that the Regulations will ‘remain in force as an interim measure for encouraging shared parenting from the earliest stages of pregnancy’ and will apply to the parents of children due to be born on or after 3 April 2011.
Currently, fathers are entitled to two weeks’ statutory paternity leave. The new Regulations mean that employees who are eligible will also be able to take up to 26 weeks’ additional paternity leave for the purpose of caring for a child under one year old, if the mother chooses not to take her full maternity leave and returns to work early. Some of the paternity leave may be paid if taken during the mother’s maternity pay period.
An employee wishing to take additional paternity leave will be required to give notice to their employer not less than eight weeks before the start date chosen for the period of leave. This notice must include a declaration, from both the employee and the mother of the child, providing the employer with specific information. Employers and HM Revenue and Customs will have the power to carry out checks on the information provided where necessary.