Additional Paternity Leave
The regulations allowing Additional Paternity Leave (APL) are now in place, allowing new fathers to effectively take on the final three months of statutory maternity pay.
Until 3 April 2011, women were entitled to six weeks' maternity leave at 90% of their salary, followed by 33 weeks at £124.88 per week. Men were allowed two weeks of leave at £124.88 per week.
The changes mean that parents can now share 46 weeks' leave. Therefore, if the mother returns after 20 weeks, the father will receive statutory pay for the remaining 26 weeks.
Recent research has shown that most men are unlikely to take up the extended rights. 50% of those polled said that they could not afford it, while many claimed it would harm their career prospects.
What does this mean for HR professionals?
You must first of all update policies to reflect the changes, and guide managers through the procedure for dealing with APL. Equally, policies should be in place to prevent abuse of the new legislation.
This right only applies to children that were born on or after 3 April 2011, and the earliest a period of APL can apply is 20 weeks from the date of the child's birth (or placement for adoption).
Employees must inform you of their intention to take APL at least eight weeks before they want to start their leave, with confirmation of the child's birth, proof of parentage and responsibility for the child.
The Federation of Small Businesses has said that family leave should be tailored to suit each individual, as a "one size fits all" approach fails to adapt to those needs.
However, the new legislation is not going to go away, and reflects a culture change in the workplace. Even though women, on average, earn just 56% of men's earnings, the likelihood is that family leave will become increasingly shared over the coming years. Indeed, recent government proposals indicate that these rights will be extended further by 2015, with up to ten months' paid paternity leave available for fathers.
While the Federation of Small Businesses claims that employers will be put off recruiting, the reality is that employees will be looking for more family-friendly businesses to work for. Equally, there are a number of positives in that mothers will be able to return to work sooner, and both parents will return to the workplace with additional skills that employers should find invaluable - from time management to multi-tasking and even conflict management!
Ceridian provides a range of small business hr services, which include a HR Business Partner service, where a CIPD-qualified professional will provide assistance with policies and procedures. If you require any information regarding this service, or any of our HR services, contact our team on 0800 733 337.