In April 2010, the Additional Paternity Leave Regulations 2010 came into force. The Regulations provide fathers (or the mother’s partner) with additional leave for children due to be born or adopted on or after 3rd April 2011.
What does this mean?
This is due to effect employees who are:
- fathers, or spouses or partners of mothers and;
- employees who have been matched for adoption and are spouses or partners of the person taking adoption leave.
The Regulations give fathers (or the mother’s partner) a right to up to 26 weeks’ additional paternity if the mother has returned to work with some of her statutory maternity/adoption leave undertaken. The father (or mother’s partner) would be entitled to receive additional statutory paternity pay if the mother has not exhausted her statutory maternity pay when she returns to work.
These rights are in addition to the existing ordinary paternity leave of 2 weeks. The additional paternity leave can only start 20 weeks after the child is born. It should be remembered that those who take additional paternity leave have the right to return to work in the same job and in the same conditions.
What should employers do?
Employers should have existing policies in place to manage maternity, paternity and adoption leave. In many ways, these policies can be adjusted or extended to make provision for additional paternity leave.
One of the practical difficulties for employers is how to verify the self certification that a father/mother’s partner is taking time off to care for their child and that the mother is now returning to work. Any such notification should be signed by both mother and father and contain details of both places of work.
Employers may need to consider whether any sanctions would be appropriate for fathers who refuse to provide the information and/or produce false information. Furthermore, employers should consider whether they have a blanket or selective approach for requesting such information from fathers and/or mother’s partners who are seeking additional paternity leave.