Paternity leave: minor changes
Some relatively minor changes will be made to the statutory paternity leave scheme.
In July 2019, the government consulted on high-level options for reforming parental leave and pay ‘with a view to achieving greater equality in parenting and at work’ – Good Work Plan: Proposals to Support Families. This seemed a bold review and would consider various options ranging from small tweaks to wiping the slate clean and starting again. The response to the first part of the 2019 consultation was published in June 2023 and its introduction gives a clue to the result where it states that ‘we recognise that these changes to parental leave are not the radical reforms that some respondents argued for’.
The consultation reply confirmed that no changes are proposed to shared parental leave and unpaid parental leave. However, the following tweaks to the operation of the paternity leave scheme will be made:
- Currently paternity leave can be taken either as 1 week or 2 consecutive weeks of leave. This will be changed to either 2 consecutive weeks of leave or 2 separate blocks of 1 week of leave.
- Currently, paternity leave must be taken within 8 weeks of the birth (or placement for adoption). This will be extended to within 52 weeks.
- Four weeks’ notice will be required to take each period of leave, save for in cases of domestic adoption, where the notice period will remain within seven days of the adopter receiving notice of the match.
- Eligible employees may give 28 days’ notice to vary the date of their planned leave if desired.
The detail of the changes can be found in the Paternity Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024 which will come into force on 8 March 2024 and will apply to babies whose expected week of birth begins after 6 April 2024 and to children whose expected week of adoption is on or after 6 April 2024.