The Government has announced that the Additional Paternity Leave Regulations 2010 will be introduced according to the timetable proposed by the previous Government. The Regulations will allow new parents greater flexibility as to how they make use of the statutory period of maternity leave.
The Regulations give new fathers the right to take additional paternity leave during the second six months of their child’s life if the mother chooses to return to work with maternity leave outstanding and the father will have the main responsibility for caring for the child. Some of the father’s leave may be paid if it is taken during the mother’s 39-week maternity pay period. The period of leave must be continuous; the minimum allowed will be two weeks and the maximum 26 weeks. The changes will also apply to spouses, partners and civil partners of a child’s mother or of an adoptive parent who has elected to take adoption leave.
The new rights will apply to the parents of children due to be born on or after 3 April 2011.
In addition, the Agency Workers Regulations 2010, which implement EU Directive 2008/104/EC, will come into force in the UK on 1 October 2011 without any changes. The Government was considering making amendments to the Regulations in order to reduce the burden on employers. However, Employment Relations Minister Edward Davey has said that the Government’s ability to do so is constrained by the fact that the Regulations are based to a significant degree on an agreement brokered between the CBI and TUC by the previous Administration. This included the specific agreement that agency workers in the UK will acquire the new rights once they have been in a given job for 12 weeks. After discussions with both bodies, it has not been possible to find a way forward that would be acceptable to both parties.
The Government has also announced its intention to bring forward proposals to create more flexible, family friendly workplaces. As a first step, from April 2011 the right to request flexible working will be extended to parents of children under the age of 18. At present, this right is available to parents of children aged under 17, parents of disabled children under 18 and carers of certain adults.