Further DTI consultation

On 14 May, the DTI published a further consultation dealing with the administration of additional paternity leave and pay. The basic proposal is that if a mother returns to work before her child’s first birthday, the father will be able to take some, or all, of the second half of the child’s first year as paid additional paternity leave (APL). This further consultation deals with how the government proposes to administer this new right.

Timing

The introduction of paid APL will be brought into force alongside the extension of maternity pay to 12 months “by the end of this Parliament”. The DTI has now confirmed that the earliest possible implementation will be for babies due on or after 5 April 2009 - although this is “not a firm date”.

Eligibility

As for existing paternity leave, this is for employed fathers who have completed six months’ service with their employer into the 15th week before the week the baby is due.

The leave can only be taken once the baby is at least 20 weeks old and before reaching one year old, and must be taken for the purpose of caring for the child. The ability to take this leave will be dependant upon the mother returning to work and giving up all or part of her remaining maternity leave during that period. The government proposes that it will be for the father and mother to self-certify to the father’s employer key personal facts as to the father’s eligibility. The employer will not be required to carry out further checks, such as with the mother’s employer or HMRC.

Notice

The government proposes that eight weeks’ notice of his intention to take APL must be given to mirror the period required by a mother to return to work early from maternity leave. The employer will then have 28 days within which to confirm that the individual meets the eligibility requirements.

Where there is a change of plans as to the start date (whether early, postponement or cancellation), the government seeks views as to whether the minimum notice period should be four or six weeks. Where insufficient notice is given and it is not reasonably practicable for the employer to accommodate the change, the employer can insist that the APL be taken. If this means APL is taken when the mother has not returned to work, the APL will simply be unpaid leave.

The consultation runs until 3 August.