Greater range of childcare options now available to families
04 May 2011
The Additional Paternity Leave Regulations 2010 came into force on 6 April 2010. The Regulations enable fathers, or the spouse or partner (of either sex) of the child’s mother or the partner of a primary adopter, to take up to 26 weeks additional paternity leave (“APL”). They apply to parents of babies that were born (or adoptive parents notified of a match) on or after 3 April 2011 and will enable a mother to transfer up to six months of her maternity leave to the father when she returns to work. However, the Regulations do not apply to parents adopting from overseas.
The minimum duration of leave a father can apply for is two consecutive weeks. Leave must be taken in periods of complete weeks and be in a continuous block. In the case of a birth, the earliest this leave can start is 20 weeks after the child is born and must end no later than the child’s first birthday. In the case of adoption, the earliest leave can start is 20 weeks after the child was placed for adoption and must end no later than one year after the placement began.
There is no requirement for the father’s leave to begin directly after the mother returns to work, only that the mother has already returned to work before his leave begins. In order to be eligible for additional paternity leave and pay, a father (or partner of a primary adopter) must be continuously employed by the same employer for at least 26 weeks, ending with the relevant week, and remain in the same employment until he starts his leave. In the case of birth, the relevant week is the fifteenth week before the baby is due. In the case of adoption it is the week the adopter is matched with a child for adoption.
Additional statutory paternity pay is paid at the lesser of the standard SMP rate, which is currently £128.73 per week, or 90% of the father’s average weekly earnings if that is less. It is only payable during the period when the mother would be entitled to SMP, MA or SAP. The pay period for those payments is 39 weeks.
The government has published guidance on APL entitlement for employers on the Business Link website at www.online.businesslink.gov.uk and for employees on APL entitlement and pay on the Directgov website for employee at www.direct.gov.uk
On the basis of a government survey, it is estimated that 4-8% of eligible fathers will apply each year. However, at present, many fathers do not use the parental leave available to them and therefore it will remain to be seen to what extent APL will be used.
This article was prepared by Karen Cole
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