Fathers to be entitled to 6 months’ paternity leave

Year Published: 2010

Government to announce plans to allow new dads to take more time off while their baby’s mother returns to work

Fathers will be able to take up to six months’ paternity leave while their child’s mother returns to work, under government proposals due to be announced later today.

Ministers are expected to say that fathers will have a legal right to take the place of the mother at home for the last three months of her nine-month maternity leave.

During that time, they would be eligible for statutory government pay of £123 a week. They would then be allowed to take an additional unpaid three months off, which would effectively allow couples to have a total of 12 months’ parental leave.

The measure would allow mothers who earn more than their partners to return to work earlier, and is a victory for Harriet Harman, the deputy leader of the Labour party, who has championed extra parental leave and flexible working rights for parents.

Last year, the government postponed plans to extend paid maternity leave to 12 months and allow parents to split this allowance between them, citing the economic climate and the costs and bureaucracy it would cause employers.

Ministers estimate that between 4% and 8% of those eligible for the new leave will take it, with only 1% of small businesses expected to be affected, according to reports in the Daily Telegraph.

Click here for the full story on the Guardian website.

The Guardian reported today that fathers are to be allowed to take up to 6 months Paternity Leave following the birth of their child and the mother returning to work, after taking 6 months maternity leave. This will assist families where the mother earns more money than the father and can return to work to benefit from the higher salary.

Although this is a victory for equality you have to ask yourself how many men are likely to take 6 months off work to care for a baby? If there is a huge uptake of the right it will fall to employers to effectively police the return to work of the mother and significantly increase paperwork and cross company correspondence in order to verify her return to work. Do both parents then qualify for Keeping in Touch Days? The guidance on this subject should make for interesting reading.

Comments by Victoria Riley.

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