Fathers of babies due on or after 3 April 2011 are entitled to up to six months’ additional paternity leave to be taken prior to the child’s first birthday and the transfer from the mother of up to three months’ pay at the statutory flat rate. Similar rights apply on adoption.

Leave cannot start earlier than 20 weeks after the birth (unless the mother has died) and 8 weeks' notice is required, so employers may start receiving requests around the end of June 2011.

Employers should update family-friendly policies and ensure managers are aware of the new rights. Those that provide enhanced pay or benefits to employees on maternity leave need to consider whether to extend these to employees on additional paternity leave.

A more detailed briefing on the new paternity rights and a table summarising the current position on all family-friendly rights is available to clients on request