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Additional Paternity Leave Regulations - Are you ready?

Additional Paternity LeaveFrom 3 April 2011 the Additional Paternity Leave Regulations will allow eligible fathers to take up to 26 weeks' leave to care for their new child, possibly with additional statutory paternity pay. This leave and pay is only available to qualifying employees if the mother has returned to work.

This is a significant change from the existing arrangements, which employers must prepare for very carefully in order to avoid getting into administrative and managerial difficulties.

New fathers can start their additional paternity leave (APL) any time from the 20 weeks after the child is born. The leave must have been taken in full by the child's first birthday. A minimum of two weeks and a maximum of 26 continuous weeks' leave can be taken.

This is additional to a new father's existing right to Ordinary Paternity Leave: 2 weeks' paid leave within 56 days of the child's birth.

In order to qualify for APL the employee must be the father of the baby and/or the partner of the mother and share the responsibility for the baby's upbringing. A 'partner' is defined as: someone who lives with the mother of the baby in an enduring family relationship.

There is also a minimum qualifying period of 26 weeks continuous employment, prior to the qualifying week. The qualifying week is the 15th week before the baby is due.

If a baby is due on or after 3 April 2011 but arrives earlier then the employee is still entitled to APL.

In order for the father to be eligible for APL, the baby's mother must also be entitled to maternity leave and pay and return to work at least two weeks after the birth, with at least two weeks of unexpired maternity leave remaining.

Additional statutory paternity pay (ASPP) is payable to those workers who have satisfied the eligibility criteria. The current rate is 90% of average weekly earnings or £128.73, whichever is lower. Some employers may wish to offer enhanced paternity pay as a means of attracting, retaining and motivating employees.

To qualify for APL and ASPP an employee must give you notice, in writing, at least 8 weeks before the start of the leave. Information should also be supplied about the expected date of birth and the particulars of the child's mother, including employment details.

Employees may also be called upon to provide further evidence of their right to claim APL and ASPP, such as the child's birth certificate. This further evidence should be presented within 28 days of asking in order for the claim to be valid. You must confirm the details of your employee's APL and ASPP within 28 days of receiving notice from your employee.

Further information on the changes will be included in the UK Training seminar, The Essentials of Employment Law, to be presented in London on 24 March 2011.

We are also preparing a short online seminar explaining the changes to paternity rights and the impact of the abolition of the default retirement age. If you would like to be informed of the date and time of this seminar then please contact us here and we will be in touch.


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