Paternity and Parental Leave – Further changes under consideration in DCSF Green PaperThursday, February 4th, 2010
In a detailed Green Paper published in January by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF), the Government announced that further changes to family employment rights are under consideration in the following three areas:
- One of the qualifying conditions for entitlement to two weeks (ordinary) paternity leave for a birth is for fathers to give notice to their employer not later than the qualifying week, i.e. fifteen weeks before the expected week of birth. Fifteen weeks’ notice is required to take two weeks’ leave. In contrast, mothers have to give the same fifteen weeks’ notice in order to take up to a year’s leave. There is an argument that the notice periods are disproportionate to the periods of leave and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) is to review the notice period for paternity leave and consult publicly on changes later in 2010. There is, of course, a difference that is not mentioned in the Green Paper – that mothers may start their leave four weeks after giving notice, whereas fathers cannot start their leave for about fifteen weeks.
- Some fathers do not have the necessary length of service or average earnings to qualify for (ordinary) statutory paternity pay. The Government will explore these barriers to taking paternity leave during 2010 and this will include giving consideration to the introduction of paternity allowance, similar to the maternity allowance available to mothers who do not qualify for statutory maternity pay.
- Parental leave is available to both mothers and fathers for up to 13 weeks in the period up to a child’s fifth birthday. A greater entitlement is available in respect of disabled children. The 13-week period must increase to 4 months in future in line with changes to the new European Parental Leave Directive and the Government intends, at the same time, to consider whether parental leave should be available in respect of children over the age of 5.
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