Fathers to take up to 6 months leave
Last month the Government confirmed an extension of paternity leave to fathers which will take effect on 6th April 2011 and will apply to children due on or after 3rd April 2011.
According to the government proposals, fathers will be able to take advantage of additional paternity leave during the second six months of a child’s life should the mother wish to return to work before the end of her maternity leave allocation. 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.
Fathers would be eligible for statutory government pay during that period. They would then be allowed to take an additional unpaid three months off, effectively entitling couples to have a total of 12 months’ parental leave between them.
The implementation of these provisions, originally intended to come into force in April 2009 under the Work and Families Act 2006, had been delayed in view of the economic climate. Although welcomed as a victory for parental rights by, amongst others, Minister for Women and Equality – Harriet Harman, the provisions have been criticised by business groups including the British Chamber of Commerce who have questioned the timing and impact of new employment legislation as the UK recovers from the recession.