Paternity Leave changes

Paternity leave is an important employment right, needed at the most sensitive time when a baby arrives.

Paternity leave is an important employment right, needed at the most sensitive time when a baby arrives. Paternity leave describes the right of a person to take time off because their partner is having a baby or there is an adoption or surrogacy. A person might be entitled to:

  • one or two weeks paid paternity leave
  • paternity pay
  • shared parental leave and pay.

It is not possible to have both leave and pay and there are rules on how to claim and when the leave can start. Employment rights are protected whilst on paternity leave, including the right to:

  • pay rises
  • accruing holiday
  • returning to work.

The government has announced upcoming changes to paternity leave and pay which employers and employees must be aware of. These changes will make it more flexible for fathers and partners to access and will come into effect for fathers and partners from 6 April 2024. However, employees can start informing their employers from the 8 March 2024 of the dates they are going to take for their child born on or after 6 April 2024.

The government guidance states that:

'These changes will allow fathers and partners to take their leave in non-consecutive blocks. Currently, only one block of leave can be taken, which can be either one or two weeks. The changes will remove this barrier by enabling fathers to take two non-consecutive weeks of leave.

'It will also allow fathers and partners to take their leave and pay at any point in the first year after the birth or adoption of their child. This gives fathers and partners more flexibility to take their Paternity Leave at a time that works for their family.

'This will shorten the notice period that fathers and partners are required to give their employers for each period of leave. The new measure will require an employee to give only four weeks' notice prior to each period of leave. This means that they can decide when to take their leave at shorter notice to accommodate the changing needs of their families.

'HMRC's Basic PAYE Tool (BPT) will be updated with the new Paternity Pay and Leave terms by 6 April 2024.

'Employers of fathers or partners whose babies are born early may choose to take Statutory Paternity Pay and Leave before this date and before the PAYE software has been updated. This means some employers may need to claim repayment for 'Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP) paid under the new rules, but before the BPT has been updated.

'Employers should identify employees who have given or will give notice of their intent to claim Statutory Paternity Pay and Leave, and whose babies have an expected week of birth after 6 April 2024. If no employees meet those conditions by that date, you will not need to consider the following transitional guidance.'

This can be a complex area for employers and it is important to get the processes and procedures right. Taking specialist employment advice may save time, money and stress for both employer and employees at such an important time in their lives.

To discuss this or any other employment matter, contact us.