The House of Lords has approved various draft regulations pertaining to the new right to paternity leave. The most important is the Additional Paternity Leave Regulations 2010, which specify that additional paternity leave will be for a maximum of 26 weeks and minimum of 2 weeks, that it must not start until at least 20 weeks after the birth or placement for adoption and must end not later than 12 months after the birth or placement for adoption, and that it may only be taken in multiples of complete weeks.
The regulations came into force on 6th April 2010 but will have effect only in relation to children whose expected week of birth (or matching for adoption) begins on or after 3rd April 2011.
Under the regulations fathers will be entitled to up to six months additional paternity leave provided the mother has returned to work, thus giving parents the option of dividing a period of paid leave entitlement between them. To the extent that additional paternity leave is taken during the mother’s 39 week maternity pay period it will be paid leave, paid at the same rate and in the same way as Statutory Maternity Pay (which increases in April 2010 to £124.88 per week from the current £123.06). Parents will be required to ‘self certify’ by providing details of their eligibility to their employer. Employers and HMRC will both be able to carry out further checks of entitlement if necessary.