Additional Paternity Leave and Pay – Government clarifies its implementation plansWednesday, September 23rd, 2009
There has been no substantive information provided by the Government for over 18 months on its promise to extend paid maternity leave to a year and introduce additional paternity leave. There have been lots of rumours, however, generally propounding the view that, in view of the economic problems faced by employers, the Government was having second thoughts about extending the existing paid leave entitlements.
As a reminder, at the time the Government published its response to the consultation on the administrative procedures that were being considered for additional paternity leave, the intentions were:
- to increase paid maternity leave from 39 weeks to 52 weeks
- to allow the father to take up to 26 weeks of the mother’s maternity leave as additional paternity leave when she returns to work, starting not earlier than 20 weeks after the baby is born
- to maintain rights during additional paternity leave equivalent to ordinary maternity leave
- to pay additional statutory paternity pay (ASPP) to the father for the full period of additional paternity leave, i.e. up to six months
- a simple “self-certification” procedure would be the basis for administering the scheme
- to introduce the changes before the end of the current Parliament, which would mean 6 April 2010 at the latest.
On 15 September, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) announced that there will now be a further consultation with a view to introducing additional paternity leave and pay from 2011, specifically for parents of children due on or after Sunday, 3 April 2011. (Although not stated, it will presumably also apply, in the case of adoptions, where the matching week starts on or after 3 April 2011, or where the date of placement is on or after 3 April 2011, even if the matching date is earlier.)
The BIS press release made no reference to the planned increase to 52 weeks of paid maternity leave, seemingly on the basis that the introduction of additional paternity leave will have a minimal impact on employers – take up is expected to be less than 6% and less than 1% of small businesses are likely to be affected – whereas extending paid maternity leave would affect a majority of employers.
Retention of the 39-week maternity pay period is also indicated by the intention now to limit payment during additional paternity leave so that the combined period of SMP to the mother and ASPP to the father will not exceed 39 weeks. If the father takes additional paternity leave to the end of the 52 weeks, the final 13 weeks will not be paid.
Subject to the consultation process and parliamentary procedure, the government intends to have the necessary legislation in place by April 2010, a year before the implementation date.
HMRC subsequently provided further information, as follows:
- The earliest cases of entitlement to additional paternity leave and pay could be in November 2010, in the rare situation where a baby is born prematurely, the mother dies in childbirth and, as permitted exceptionally by the rules in these circumstances, the father takes additional paternity leave immediately.
- Most cases will start to occur from September 2011 onwards, i.e. 20 weeks of so after births from April 2011. Some earlier cases are possible, as early as April 2011, in the event of premature births from November 2010 onwards.
- Developers will not be required to support the payment of ASPP during the 2010/11 tax year and form P14 for that year will not be amended to allow for ASPP to be reported. Any ASSP paid during 2010/11 will be reported in the SPP box on the P14 Summary.
- Guidance for employers and an electronic calculator for ASPP will be provided on the HMRC website before the earliest possible case occurs. An ASPP calculator will be included on the Employer CD-ROM for 2011/12.
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