As if the new changes to maternity rights weren’t enough I read recently that men will soon be able to take maternity leave and that women will be entitled to one year’s paid maternity leave, surely that cannot be right?
Mr Shocked, Whatever is the World Coming to Limited
We are still, thankfully, a long way off a man having a baby so your male employees won’t be entitled to take maternity leave. What the Government does intend to do this Parliament is to introduce significant extensions to the rights currently enjoyed by fathers. We don’t yet have any draft legislation but the Government has already consulted on its proposals and has responded with details of what we can expect to see when the legislation is drafted. As things currently stand:
- Any father who currently qualifies for paternity leave will also qualify for additional paternity leave (APL). This applies also to adopted fathers provided that they have not taken statutory adoption leave or pay.
- Fathers can take up to 26 weeks additional paternity leave. As the intention is for mothers and fathers to be able to share care for a newborn during the first year, the paternity leave period must end when the mother’s additional maternity leave period would have ended.
- The earliest that a father will be able take APL is 20 weeks from the date of birth of the child or the placement for adoption. The mother must have ceased receiving maternity pay and returned to work before the APL can start. There will need to be communication between the parents’ employers to ensure that employees stick to the rules. The new legislation is likely to include requirements on employers to provide relevant information to each other if requested.
- APL does not need to start immediately the mother returns to work. A gap will not disqualify the father from taking APL.
- Pay levels will be at the rate of ordinary paternity leave which from are currently £112.75 or if less, 90% average earnings calculated over the same period as for statutory maternity pay.
- As for the new maternity rights, the Government will introduce 10 keeping in touch days during which the father may undertake work, at a rate of pay to be agreed, without being deemed to have returned to work.
- A father’s contract of employment will continue to remain in force during the APL period save for those provisions relating to pay. This is the position for a woman on ordinary maternity leave, not additional maternity leave as one might expect. This is because the Government has expressly stated that it wishes to encourage fathers to take this leave, hence the higher level of protection. Therefore a man taking APL will be entitled to return to the same job at the end of the APL period.
As for the maternity pay, you are right. The Government intends to extend statutory maternity pay from 9 to 12 months before the end of this Parliament.