26 / 4 / 2011 9.13am
Eligible fathers with a child due on or after 3 April 2011 will:
- Have the right to take between two and twenty six weeks additional paternity leave if the mother has returned to work. This is in addition to two weeks ordinary paternity leave and can only start twenty weeks after the child is born; and
- Be entitled to receive additional paternity pay if the mother has not exhausted her statutory maternity pay when she returns to work. He also has the right to maintain the same terms and conditions (other than pay) as if he had been at work;
- Have the right to return to work in the same job and on the same conditions.
Managing the change
Employers will already have policies in place for managing maternity, paternity and adoption leave and in most cases these should be able to be adjusted to take account of additional paternity leave.
Policies should be checked to ensure that they are adequate to deal with requests for additional paternity leave or if parts need extension or clarification.
Introduction of new forms for applying for additional paternity leave should be considered along with how the process will be managed.
Attention will need to be paid to how the father’s entitlement to ten “keeping in touch” days will be implemented and managed.
Recognition of the rights of civil partners as well as adopters adopting in the UK will also need to be covered.
In order to be eligible the father must self-certify that he is intending to take the time off to care for his child and that the mother is returning to work, This must be done by providing the employer with notification signed by both mother and father.
Employers are not obliged to check the information provided to the mother’s employer but they can request a copy of the birth certificate and the name and address of the mother’s employer.
However, there is no obligation on the mother’s employer to provide information nor any sanction if the father does not provide the requested information.
It is important, therefore, for employers to consider, when updating their policy whether they will employ disciplinary sanctions for fathers who refuse to provide information or who provide false information.
It will also be important to decide whether to employ a blanket or selective approach for requesting the information from fathers.
It is important to ensure that line managers and human resources staff are up to date on the changes to the legislation in order to avoid the risk of possible discrimination.
This also applies to ensuring that all staff are informed of the changes and advised of their rights.
Employers may wish to consider whether any enhanced benefits offered to mothers should also be offered to fathers. The Government does not believe that a failure to offer benefits equally will give men grounds for a claim, however it could be argued that treating men and women differently could give rise to discrimination.
Fathers are protected from detriment or dismissal whilst taking additional paternity leave and have the right to return to work to the same job and on no less favourable terms and conditions.
Employers will want to update redundancy policies and advice to ensure that like mothers on maternity leave, fathers on additional paternity leave are entitled to be offered a suitable alternative vacancy if their role is made redundant.