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Labour announce plans to double paternity leave
Ed Miliband has announced that a future Labour government would double the amount of paternity leave available to fathers, from 2 to 4 weeks, whilst also increasing paternity pay by more than £120 a week.
The current position
Since 2003 new fathers have been entitled to take either one or two full weeks paternity leave, providing they meet certain eligibility criteria. The current rate for Paternity pay is £138.18.
Fathers can take leave immediately following the birth or placement of a child or within the following 56 days. To claim paternity leave fathers must notify their employer at least 15 weeks before the week in which their baby is expected and provide 28 days' notice of when they would like Ordinary Paternity Pay to start. Fathers are also entitled to 26 weeks Additional Paternity Leave but this can only be taken when the mother or co-adopter has returned to work.
The proposed position
Providing they meet the eligibility criteria a father would be entitled to take 4 weeks paternity leave at £260 per week, which would be equal to a 40 hour week on minimum wage. It is unclear whether fathers will be entitled to take this 4 weeks paternity leave in addition to their entitlement to Shared Parental Leave, which is available to parents who are expecting a child following April 2015.
If it comes into force- what will it mean for employers?
If the proposal comes into force it could have cost implications for employers who will bear the cost of paying an increased level of paternity pay in addition to the burden of trying to find cover for employees who opt to take 4 weeks paternity leave.
We will also have to see how this would fit with Shared Parental Leave. Parents will however be able to make the decision to stay at home together for longer following the birth of the child.
With the election merely months away, we will have to wait to see if these proposals become a reality.