Changes to Paternity Leave

The Paternity Leave Amendment Regulations came into force on 8 March 2024 and apply to babies due, adopted or brought into Great Britain for adoption on or after 6 April 2024. Please note that it is the due date of the baby which is relevant here, not the actual birth date of the baby.

There are the following changes in respect of babies born to biological parents, and adopted babies:

  • Fathers and partners will be able to take their paternity leave and pay as two non-consecutive blocks of one week if they choose to, rather than only in one block of either one week or two weeks.
  • This leave and pay can be taken at any point during the first year after the birth or adoption of their child, rather than only within the first eight weeks after adoption or birth.
  • Employees must state in writing to their employer that they are an eligible parent and that they are requesting the leave for the purposes of caring for the child and/or supporting their partner. Previously, this declaration was only necessary if the employer requested it.

There are the following changes for babies born to biological parents:

  • An employee will have to give 28 days’ notice prior to each period of leave. The notice requirement was previously 15 weeks before the expected week of childbirth. Fathers and partners can change the dates of this leave with 28 days’ notice.

For babies who are adopted, employees will still have to give notice that they want to take leave and the dates on which they want to take this leave, within seven days of having received notice of having been matched with a child. Therefore, if the adopter wants to take the paternity leave in two blocks of one week, they would have to decide the dates of both blocks of leave within seven days of being matched with the child. Presumably, the reason why the notice requirement is less strict than for babies born to their biological parents is that the adoption process is less predictable than birth.

Employees who are eligible for paternity pay will be paid at the statutory rate of £172.48 each week (£184.03 from 7 April 2024), unless the contract of employment allows for a more generous payment.

As before:

  • In order to be eligible for paternity leave and pay, employees must have at least 26 weeks’ continuous service by the qualifying week, which is the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth. For an adoption, they must have at least 26 weeks’ service by the week they were matched with a child (UK adoptions) and by either the date the child arrives in the UK or when they want their pay to start (overseas adoptions).
  • Paternity leave cannot be taken after shared parental leave so fathers and partners who wish to take shared parental leave should take all their paternity leave first, or they will lose this entitlement.
  • Unlike with a request for annual leave, employers have no right to postpone statutory paternity leave, even if the dates are inconvenient for the employer.

We will be updating our clients employment documents to reflect these changes. If you have any questions, please contact us by emailing or by phoning 01392 247436.

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