Having a child can be both one of the most rewarding times in a parent’s life, but as many parents will tell you, it can also be a time of stress and exhaustion. The aim of maternity and paternity leave is to try and alleviate this. Recently, the British government submitted a bill to Parliament that will amend the current statutory paternity leave scheme.


This legislation will allow fathers or partners to split paternity leave into two blocks, giving more flexibility than the present situation where they can only take one continuous block of paternity leave. The Paternity Leave Amendment Regulations 2024 will apply in cases where childbirth is expected before or after 6th April 2024.


Currently, employees can take up to two consecutive weeks of statutory paternity leave up to 56 days (eight weeks) after the birth of their baby. This paternity leave can be taken provided they meet the eligibility criteria, evidence and notification requirements. Similar provisions exist for adoption and surrogacy cases.


So, what are the changes in the Paternity Leave Amendment Regulations 2024?


These changes will apply to parents of new-borns whose expected delivery date is on or after 6th April 2024. The changes will also apply to parents whose expected adoption date is on or after 6th April 2024. For those whose children are born before 6th April, the current requirements will continue to apply.


Baby daughter sitting on fathers lap at home


What is the length of paternity leave?


Current requirements: It can only be regarded as a continuous holiday, such as a break of 1 week or 2 weeks in length.

New requirements: The changes allow fathers and partners to split two weeks of paid leave into two separate weeks.


When can you take paternity leave?


Current requirements: Leave within 56 days (8 weeks) of the baby’s birth.

New requirements: Leave can be taken at any time within a year after the baby is born or a child is adopted.


What are the notice requirements for paternity leave?


Current requirements: Must give notice of leave 15 weeks prior to the expected birth date, when they want leave to start, and how much leave they want.

New requirements: Employers must be notified 28 days in advance of the leave employees intend to take, and how much leave they want to take. However, notice of entitlement must still be provided 15 weeks before birth.


How much is statutory paternity pay?


Current requirements: £172.48 a week or 90% of average weekly earnings, whichever is higher

New requirements: £184.03 or 90% of their average earnings, whichever is higher. This increase is in line with the uprating of statutory payments


The changes increase the flexibility of statutory paternity leave by allowing fathers and partners to take two weeks’ paid leave during two separate periods of the week. Statutory paternity pay will go up slightly to £184.03 or 90% of their average earnings, whichever is higher. Alternatively, some employers may choose to offer full pay.


Our thoughts


The changes to statutory paternity leave are a welcome improvement on the current regulations. However, many have criticised the government for not going far enough with the changes. The reality for many fathers or partners  is that they are unable to take their full paternity entitlement due to the financial strain. To emphasise this, a recent survey found that only three in five fathers took less than two weeks following the birth of their most recent child. Only 29% of fathers surveyed had access to increased pay or increased paternity leave through their employer. The UK lags behind other Western European countries, with the likes of Spain and Norway offering over 15 weeks of full pay for new fathers.


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