…About Paternity Leave!
It’s good to see more options for parents and families at one of the greatest times of excitement and change – the arrival of a new addition to the family!
The rights of a mum are well established and over the last few years we have seen increased entitlement to new fathers. But before we start, who does Paternity Leave and Pay apply to?
- Biological father
- The mother’s husband, partner or civil partner
- An individual with responsibility (or shared responsibility) for the child’s upbringing
Those eligible, with continuous employment of 26 weeks ending 15 weeks before the baby is due, have the entitlement to basic statutory leave of two weeks. The rate of Statutory Paternity Pay is as Statutory Maternity Pay. This entitlement has to be taken within 56 days of the date of birth.
Since April 2011, a Dad is entitled to Additional Paternity Leave and Pay under the condition that this is taken from the mother’s Maternity Leave and any outstanding Statutory Maternity Pay. Mum must also have ended her leave and returned to work. The entitlement covers up to 26 weeks leave to take care of a new baby and cannot continue beyond the statutory maternity period.
Reports are showing that there is currently little uptake and the question of fairness has been raised as few employers offer Mums and Dads the same enhanced pay during leave periods. However, there is the opportunity for employers to promote themselves as family friendly with enhanced paternity options. It can be great for employers who are trying to promote a greater sense of work-life balance, but as always, there is the issue of cost implications.
And then there’s Parental Leave:
Parental leave allows, after one year service with an employer, an entitlement to 18 weeks unpaid parental leave (increased from 13 weeks in March 2013). This leave should be taken in blocks of one or more weeks to be used to care for the welfare of a child in certain situations such as:
- During a hospital stay
- Spending more time together
- Settling into school/childcare
Into the future with flexible Paternal Leave:
Proposals for the future are to encourage greater flexibility and allow a ‘mix and match’ of leave. Future reforms could allow both parents to share up to a year of parental leave and such changes are hoped to create a more flexible workplace by allowing Dads the opportunity of more time at home caring for their child and helping Mums to return at the right time for them. Parents will be able to manage how leave is split and what works best for their situation. However such reform is not anticipated until 2015…