The Work and Families Act 2006 allowed the Government to introduce provisions extending a father's right to take paternity leave. The Government envisaged rules enabling fathers to take up to 26 weeks' leave (some of which will be paid) if the mother returns to work after six months, but before the end of her maternity leave period.

The Government has now launched consultation on these proposals for additional paternity leave (APL) and additional statutory paternity pay (ASPP). The proposals outlined include allowing fathers to take APL in addition to their current entitlement to two weeks paid leave and the ability for leave to be taken in a single block of between two to twenty six weeks. ASSP will be payable for the whole of the APL and will be calculated on the same basis as statutory paternity pay. To qualify for APL the father must have at least twenty six weeks' service ending with the fifteenth week before the expected week of childbirth. Both the father and the mother will have to certify to the father's employer that the father is eligible for APL, i.e. that the mother is returning to work early and passing her maternity entitlements over to the father. Fathers will be expected to give at least eight weeks' notice of their intention to take APL. In line with the changes to maternity leave introduced by the Work and Families Act, fathers will also be entitled to ten 'keeping in touch' days.

The Government is also planning for these changes to also apply to partners (of either sex) of mothers and to adopting couples who are employed and who qualify for statutory adoption leave and pay.