The Government has stated that it intends by the end of the current parliament to extend Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP), Maternity Allowance (MA) and Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP) from 39 weeks to 52 weeks. It also consulted earlier this year on the detail of its proposal to introduce Additional Paternity Leave and Pay (APL&P). Under these proposals fathers would be entitled to up to 26 weeks off work, some of which will be paid if the mother has returned to work before the end of her maternity leave period.

It had been thought that these changes would come into effect for babies due on or after April 2009. However, HMRC has recently announced that it is no longer working towards that date. The Government has decided that the changes will be delayed until at least 2010, apparently in order to give employers more clarity and further time to prepare. HMRC is now planning for implementation of these changes in respect of babies due in or after April 2010. However, the announcement makes it clear that the Government has not made a decision as to when the changes to SMP, MA and SAP and APL&P will actually come into force.