The Paternity Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024 (‘Regulations’) came into force on 8 March 2024.

Fathers/partners will have more flexibility as to when they choose to take their two weeks’ leave after birth or placement for adoption.

The Regulations apply if the child is due to be born or adopted after 6 April 2024.

What are the changes?

The four changes brought in by the Regulations will allow employees to:

  • Split their leave into separate one-week blocks, instead of taking the entire two-week entitlement in consecutive weeks.
  • Take that leave any time in the 52 weeks after the birth or adoption of their child.
  • Whilst they still need to provide 15 weeks’ notice of their entitlement/intention to take leave, they now only need to provide 28 days’ notice of the exact dates of the leave prior to the expected week of birth. [The notice period for leave in the case of domestic adoption remains minimum seven days after matching.]
  • Change any dates if they give their employer at least 28 days’ notice.

What should employers consider?

Many employers find themselves under pressure to update policies, contracts and train staff where necessary. Policies do need to be updated and employers should check that any enhanced paternity pay policy includes the new right to split the two weeks’ leave.

Despite the Regulations only affecting parents who have a childbirth or adoption from 6 April, employers have less than a month to consider the impact of these changes.

The change to the notice period for taking leave means employers will have to be more flexible. This could result in other members of staff having to work additional hours, particularly if the person taking leave works in shifts. Unlike parental leave, a request to take paternity leave cannot be refused or postponed.

Splitting leave is a welcome change but there is still a long way to go. Childcare remains the domain of the mother; a 2024 survey from charity Pregnant Then Screwed found 70% of over 500 new fathers and secondary parents who did not take their full paternity or parental leave allowance claimed it was because they could not afford to do so. Unless the two weeks’ leave is paid at (or close to) their usual salary and not at the statutory rate of £184.03 (being the rate from 6 April 2024), the change will not greatly impact whether or not to take paternity leave.

If you have questions about how the Paternity Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024 will impact you or your business, please contact Emma Clark.

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This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. It should not be used as a substitute for legal advice relating to your particular circumstances. Please note that the law may have changed since the date of this article.