The draft Paternity Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024 were laid before Parliament on 11 January 2024 with the aim of providing greater flexibility for employees looking to exercise their paternity leave rights. If the legislation is passed, the changes will apply to employees where the expected week of childbirth (EWC) is after 6 April 2024 or expected date of placement for adoption is on or after that date.
The proposed changes:
|Structure of the leave
Employees can take one or two consecutive weeks of paid paternity leave. This can only be taken as a single block of one or two weeks.
Employees will be able to take their leave as two non-consecutive blocks of one week, if they wish.
|When leave can be taken
The leave can only be taken within the first eight weeks of the birth or adoption.
Leave can be taken at any point in the first year after birth or adoption.
|Notice to the employer
Employees need to give their employer notice of the details of their leave, including the start date and duration, no later than the 15th week prior to the EWC.
The notice period the employee must give to the employer of their intended leave will be shortened to 28 days.
For adoption, the notice period will remain within seven days of the adopter receiving notification of having been matched with a child.
|Notice of variation
The start date of the employee's leave can be changed if the employer is given at least 28 days' notice.
The employee may vary the beginning or end date of the leave, or cancel the leave, if the employer is given at least 28 days’ notice of the variation.
Considerations for employers
Employers should review their policies and procedures and update them where necessary in order to align with the proposed changes, assuming they will come into force as currently drafted. Employers should also ensure that these changes are communicated to managers, as well as offering training to relevant staff.
Systems and processes may need to be altered to accommodate employee leave requests in light of the reduction in notice requirements and increased flexibility.