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30 Jan 2024

Summary of paternity leave changes

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The government has laid the draft Paternity Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024 (the "Regulations") before Parliament, which are due to come into force on 8 March 2024. The Regulations amend the statutory framework for paternity leave in a number of respects.

The Regulations provide for the following changes:

  • Fathers and partners will be able to split their leave and pay into two separate one-week periods, instead of only being able to take it in one block of one or two weeks as is currently the case.
  • Fathers and partners will be able to take their leave and pay at any time in the first year after their child is born or adopted, instead of only in the first eight weeks after adoption or birth.

From a practical perspective the result of the above two changes would mean that fathers and partners would be able to, for example, take one week's leave when the child is born and take one week's leave six months later. Or they could choose to take no leave when the child is born and take two weeks at for example ten months, or any such combination.

  • The Regulations also provide revisions to the notification process. Currently, employees must give notice of their leave dates 15 weeks before the birth or adoption which can prove difficult. The Regulations provide that employees will only need to inform their employer of their entitlement to leave 15 weeks before the expected week of childbirth, but they don’t have to give specific dates at the same time. Instead, notice of the actual dates need only be given 28 days in advance of the intended leave dates. (However, for domestic adoption cases, the notice period for leave will stay at seven days after the adopter is matched with a child). The Regulations will apply in respect of children who are due to be born after 6 April 2024 and children who are due to be placed for adoption, or enter Great Britain for adoption, on or after 6 April 2024.

Next steps

Employers should revisit their policies and practices to ensure compliance with these changes. Even if you have a paternity leave policy which is more generous than the current statutory regime, it is worth checking it encompasses these new rights.

If you have any questions on this alert or would like us to review and update your policy, please get in touch with Paul Reeves, Leanne Raven or your usual Stephenson Harwood contact.

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KEY CONTACT

Paul Reeves

Paul Reeves
Head of employment

T:  +44 20 7809 2916 M:  +44 7919 694 135 Email Paul | Vcard Office:  London

Leanne Raven

Leanne Raven
Senior knowledge lawyer

T:  +44 20 7809 2560 M:  +44 7827 353 108 Email Leanne | Vcard Office:  London