Government publishes draft legislation on proposed changes to paternity leave rights

The Government has now published the draft Paternity Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024 (the “Regulations”). The Regulations are expected to come into force on 8 March 2024, subject to approval by each House of Parliament, and will apply in England, Wales and Scotland.

The Regulations will bring increased flexibility to paternity leave and pay rights where the expected week of childbirth (‘EWC’) or date of placement for adoption is on or after 6 April 2024.

When the Regulations come into force, they will introduce the following changes:

  • employees will be able to choose to take paternity leave as a single period of leave (of one week or two weeks) or as two non-consecutive blocks on one week each;
  • employees will be able to take their entitlement at any time during the first 52 weeks from the child’s birth or placement for adoption (a much more generous provision than the previous 56 days); and
  • employees will be required to give at least 28 days’ notice of their proposed dates of paternity leave (if they opt to take two non-consecutive periods of leave, the notice requirement applies to each period of leave separately). Employees will continue to be required to give notice of their entitlement to take parental leave at least 15 weeks before the EWC or date of adoption placement.

Employers should review and update their existing policies and procedures and communicate these to all employees. They should also ensure that managers are aware of the changes to how paternity leave can be taken and what the notice requirements are, so that they  respond appropriately to any requests from employees.

As a reminder, a number of other legislative changes will be coming into force in April 2024, which will also require employers to review their current arrangements regarding flexible working, carers’ entitlement to leave and redundancy protection during and after family leave. Please see Issue 92 of our Employment Law e-bulletin for details.

If you have any questions in relation to flexible working, family friendly rights, or any employment matter, please contact a member of our Employment Team.

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