Fathers to receive up to 6 months additional paternity leave

At the moment fathers are entitled to take 2 weeks’ paid paternity leave within 8 weeks of the birth, paid at the relevant statutory rate (currently £123.06).

With effect from April 2011, the Government plans to allow fathers to take up to 6 months’ paternity leave, the first three months being paid at the statutory rate, the last three being unpaid. Fathers could only take such leave if the mother returns to work after the first 6 months’, but before the full 12 months’ maternity leave. In other words, the balance of the year’s maternity leave would transfer to the father. However, the Government has decided not to extend the period of paid maternity leave from 9 to 12 months as previously proposed.

There are obvious adminstrative issues to this plan, not least of which would be confirming that the mother has indeed returned to work for her employer, and the maintenance of records and information for a period of 3 years after the leave to enable HRMC compliance checks.

As with all other family friendly legislation, additional paternity leave will also apply to same sex partnerships.

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