Are you ready for the new paternity leave regime?

1 April 2011

Fathers already benefit from the right to take up to two weeks (ordinary) paternity leave but for babies born on or after 3 April 2011 fathers will have the right to take additional paternity leave (APL) of up to 6 months. As 3 April 2011 is only days away, we have set out some key points on the new regime to help your organisation with the changes:

• The right applies to a man who is the baby's biological father or the spouse or partner of the baby's mother and has or expects to have the main responsibility for the upbringing of the child;

• APL can only be taken in the period between 20 weeks after birth and within 12 months of the date of birth;

• APL can only be taken where the employee's spouse or partner has returned to work;

• The father must satisfy the continuity of service requirement (which is similar to maternity leave) and give 8 week's notice of his intention to take the leave;

• The father and mother should accompany the request to take APL with a declaration each setting out various pieces of information.

Practical issues 

The biggest practical issue for employers is how to satisfy themselves that this right is not being abused. The regulations include:

• the right for the employer of the father to request to see the child's birth certificate; and 

• the right for the employer to be provided with the name and address of the mother's work. 

An employer must make a request for this information within 28 days of receiving the notification that the father wishes to take APL.  

Confidential information 

As an employer should not give out their employee's confidential information without their consent the regime in the regulations does not quite go far enough. We recommend that the employer of the father also seeks confirmation from the father that the mother will authorise her employer to disclose to the father's employer that she has returned to work after a period of maternity leave. The other side of the coin is what to do if you are asked by another employer whose employee is seeking to take paternity leave for confirmation that one of your employee's (the mother) has returned to work after a period of maternity leave. The key is:

• to obtain permission (preferably in writing) from your employee to disclose the date of her return to work and confirmation that she has taken maternity leave to the father's employer; and 

• not to provide information beyond the extent of her permission.  

For more information please contact a member of the Employment Team

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We welcome views and opinions about the issues raised in this blog. Should you require specific advice in relation to personal circumstances, please use the form on the contact page.

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