The Government has announced that they will consult shortly on new regulations that will allow mothers to transfer some of their maternity entitlement to the father. Mothers will be able to choose to transfer the last six months of their maternity leave to the father with up to three months paid at the same rate as Statutory Maternity Pay. The Government intends that the new law will be in force by April 2010 and have effect for parents of children due on or after 3 April 2011.
The government says this scheme has been designed give families greater flexibility on how they choose to look after their children as well as giving fathers the opportunity to play a bigger part in the child's upbringing. The government aims to work with businesses to make sure any changes are introduced in a way that minimises administrative burdens.
Under the new scheme families will have the choice to transfer up to six months leave to the father, which can be taken by the father once the mother has returned to work. This new provision will be available during the second six months of a child's life, giving parents the option of dividing the period of paid leave between them. Some of the leave may be paid if taken during the mother's 39 week maternity pay period. It will be paid at the same rate as Statutory Maternity Pay which is currently £123.06 per week. Parents will be required to 'self certify' by providing details of their eligibility to their employer. Employers and HM Revenue and Customs will be able to carry out further checks on the entitlement if necessary.
Employed fathers are currently entitled to two weeks paid paternity leave and mothers to 52 weeks maternity leave, of which up to 39 weeks are paid. These rights will not be affected by the introduction of additional paternity leave but the new regulations will provide greater flexibility in the exercise of those rights.