The government will shortly be consulting on proposals to allow fathers to “share” some of a mother’s maternity leave entitlement.
Currently fathers are entitled to 2 weeks paid paternity leave whereas mothers are entitled to 52 weeks maternity leave of which up to 39 weeks are paid. The UK government recently rejected proposals to provide fathers with a separate right to paternity leave of up to six months. (See Related Article link below).
The proposals will only apply to parents with children due on or after 3 April 2011. The proposals include:
- giving parents the choice to transfer up to 6 months maternity leave to the father which he can take after the mother returns to work.
- some of the father’s leave may be paid at the same rate as lower rate of Statutory Maternity Pay (currently £123.06 per week), if taken during the mother’s maternity pay period.
- parents will have to self-certify by providing details of their eligibility to the father’s employer.
- HMRC and employers may carry out further checks, although data protection laws may limit the ability of employers to obtain relevant information.
The intention is to give parents greater choice and flexibility regarding use of maternity and paternity leave while minimising the administrative burden on employers. However, in previous consultation employers raised concerns about the administrative burdens, and the scope for fraud arising from the father’s ability to self-certify their entitlement to the extended leave. So far, the government has given no indication of how it intends to address those concerns.
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