Additional Paternity Leave
New rights for fathers and partners (of either sex) of mothers giving birth to a child have come into force in respect of births after 3 April 2011.
This right is for “additional paternity leave” (APL) to supplement the existing right in some cases to take 2 weeks paternity leave.
The purpose of APL is to allow couples to “share” care of the child in the first year, by allowing the father (or partner) to take up to 6 months leave after the mother has returned to work. The provisions are relatively complex, and guidance published by Business Link and Direct Gov not completely consistent yet, but the entitlement is outlined below. Similar provisions apply for adoptive parents.
Who can take Additional Paternity Leave?
When the expected week of childbirth (EWC) is on or after 3 April 2011, the person taking APL must :
- be an employee, and have at least 26 weeks continuous service before the 14th week before the EWC and still be employed by the same employer the week before the additional paternity leave starts;
- be the father of the child or married to, in partnership with, or in civil partnership with, the mother;
- expect to have responsibility for the upbringing of the child;
The mother must have been entitled to maternity leave, statutory maternity pay or maternity allowance and have returned to work, or her statutory maternity pay or maternity allowance must have ended.
What can be taken?
A person qualifying as above can take between 2 and 26 weeks leave at any time between 20 weeks and 12 months after the birth.
What is the process?
At least 8 weeks before the start of APL, the person must provide their employer with the following information in writing:
- The EWC, the actual date of birth, and the dates chosen for APL
- An “employee declaration” confirming they are:
The child’s father, or married to, in partnership with, or in civil partnership with the child’s mother; and
they expects to have responsibility for the upbringing of the child.
- A “mother declaration”, provided by the mother confirming:
The mother’s name, address and national insurance number;
The date the mother intends to return to work (or the date when the statutory maternity pay or maternity allowance will end);
The employer must confirm in writing to the employee the dates for APL within 28 days of receiving the leave notice the employer.
Review and change is likely in 2015, so the current regime may be with us until then. From a practical perspective it may be difficult for employers to plan staff levels as they will often not be aware until they are served notice that an employee wants to take APL but employers must take care not treat employees detrimentally or in breach of these rights or they risk claims against them, so taking advice at an early stage is advisable.
The above is general comment only. For specific advice contact Frances Barker, Employment Partner at Blocks Solicitors on 01473 343911 or firstname.lastname@example.org.