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Proposed Paternity Leave Changes – Draft legislation published

Calendar February 28, 2024

In summer 2023, the government announced proposals for adjustments to paternity leave rights. Now, they’ve unveiled draft legislation known as the Paternity Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024, set to be enforced on March 8th. These regulations introduce several key changes:

  • Employees will now have the flexibility to divide their two-week paternity leave entitlement into two separate one-week blocks, rather than being limited to a single week or two consecutive weeks.
  • Paternity leave can now be taken at any point within 52 weeks following the birth, as opposed to the previous requirement of taking leave within 56 days post-birth.
  • Notice requirements for paternity leave are reduced to 28 days, down from the previous 15-week notice period before the Expected Week of Childbirth (EWC).

These regulations are applicable in cases where the Expected Week of Childbirth (EWC) falls on or after April 6, 2024. These changes will coincide with the implementation of other family-friendly legal adjustments, including the introduction of carer’s leave, modifications to flexible working rights, and the expansion of redundancy protection to encompass pregnancy, maternity, adoption, and shared parental leave periods.

Pregnancy and maternity leave:

Employees will now be protected during pregnancy (from the point they tell their employer they are pregnant) and during an additional protected period after they return to work from statutory maternity leave.

This period is calculated from the first day of the expected week of childbirth for a period of 18 months. This means that, if an employee takes their full 12 months of statutory maternity leave, they’ll receive an extra six months of protection following their return to work. The new rules apply where the employer is informed of the pregnancy on or after 6 April 2024, and for the additional protected period, for any maternity leave ending on or after 6 April 2024. The new rules will also afford protection to employees who have suffered a miscarriage for a period of two weeks after the pregnancy ends.

Shared parental leave:

Similarly, employees will now be protected during shared parental leave plus an additional protected period when they return to work, calculated from the date of birth of the child/the child’s placement for adoption for a period of 18 months (the additional protected period will only be available providing the employee has taken at least six weeks of continuous shared parental leave and will apply to shared parental leave starting on or after 6 April 2024).

Adoption Rights:

Statutory adoption leave, and pay, in the UK have been broadly in line with statutory maternity leave and pay since April 2015 with up to 52 weeks’ adoption leave available. 

From 6 April 2024, parents on adoption leave have the right to be prioritised for redeployment offers in a redundancy situation, for 18 months after the child’s date or placement or date of entry into Great Britain.  

Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP) is payable for 39 weeks and there’s a qualifying service requirement of 26 weeks’ continuous employment.

What do the changes mean for employees?

Undoubtedly, the changes will give fathers and partners greater flexibility, but in practice the changes have limited impact, save for employers needing to be aware that they may receive requests for paternity leave at shorter notice.

Given that statutory paternity pay can be significantly lower than the employee’s normal earnings, this will help to overcome the financial pressures that families face where a wage earner and, in many cases, the main or only earner cannot afford to take a two-week leave slot.

The new right of being able to take the statutory paternity leave at any time in the first year affords an opportunity for the parent to spend more time bonding with the child over a 12-month period, rather than in just the two months following birth or adoption. The shortened notice period for each period of leave and pay will help fathers to better accommodate the changing needs of their families.

The current regulations only apply to those who are legally classified as an employee. However, there are instances if an individual works through an agency and is legally classed as an employee they may be entitled to statutory paternity leave. The proposed Paternity Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024 do not seem to look at changing that.

What do employers need to know?

In light of the changes to paternity leave and as a result of the increased complexity of the notice requirements, employers will need to adapt their current systems to ensure they keep track of employee requests.

Managers will also need to be trained on these changes and amendments made to existing policies and other documentation. Any internal software must also be updated by employers to reflect the new rules and it is vital to communicate the changes to managers to avoid errors.

Businesses need to ensure as a minimum that they are updating their paternity leave policies to reflect the proposed changes as well as implementing training for relevant staff so that they are able to execute any requests from a practical and payroll perspective legally and compliantly.

Employers and employees are encouraged to stay updated with the latest legal requirements and seek professional advice for compliance. We at Kalra Legal Group can assist.

Contact us now for a free 15-minute consultation on 0330 221 0684 or e-mail us at [email protected].


By Suraj Purohit.

Employment Paralegal at Kalra Legal Group


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