United Kingdom: New government proposals to make the taking of paternity leave easier

In brief

In 2019, the government consulted on various measures to support families. It has now responded to chapter one of that consultation – Parental leave and pay: Supporting parents and achieving equality – and announced changes to the statutory paternity leave regime to give fathers and partners more choice and flexibility around how and when they take their entitlement.  


In more detail

Proposed changes

The government has announced the following changes to statutory paternity leave:

  • Choice to take statutory paternity leave in either one block of two weeks or two separate blocks of one week's leave. The current overall entitlement of two weeks' leave is unchanged.
  • Choice to take the leave at any time in the first year of birth/placement for adoption. The current regime requires the individual to take the leave within the first eight weeks after birth / placement for adoption.
  • Change to the notice requirements for taking the leave. The government is proposing to allow individuals to give their notice of entitlement 15 weeks before birth and give 28 days' notice before the dates that they intend to take each period of leave (and pay, where they qualify). Currently individuals are required to notify their employer of their leave dates 15 weeks before the expected week of childbirth.

These changes will be implemented through secondary legislation which will be introduced in due course. There are no other changes to the statutory paternity leave and pay regime.

The government also noted that many respondents considered that the current statutory shared parental leave and pay regime is very complex. Although the government is not proposing to make any changes to this regime, it has developed an online tool to make it easier for employed parents to access the scheme and help employers administer the scheme. 

For advice or to discuss what this means for you and your business, please contact your usual Baker McKenzie.

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