A recent survey of 2,000 senior UK decision makers found that nearly half supported extending statutory paternity / partner leave. But how realistic is an extended paternity period?
It may depend on the success—or failure—of shared parental leave (SPL). Data collected by the CIPD seems to show that SPL schemes are failing. This has led to calls for reform from many HR professionals, including those at the CIPD. If SPL continues to see low uptake, then an updated version of paternity leave could be introduced, or even take its place.
Call 01455 858 132 today for immediate advice on family friendly leave. Otherwise, read on to find out how long the extension to paternity leave could be…
How long is paternity leave currently?
The statutory rate for UK paternity leave length is either 1 week or 2 consecutive weeks’ leave. This amount of time is the same regardless of the number of children. This means if their partner gives birth to twins, the leave period remains the same.
Paternity leave cannot begin before the birth. The start date must be:
- The actual date of birth
- An agreed number of days after the birth
- An agreed number of days after the expected week of childbirth if the baby is born early
Finally, leave must finish within 56 days of the birth. The start and end dates are different if the employee is adopting.
Why might paternity leave be extended?
The findings of the CIPD survey indicated that most organisations hadn’t seen any use of their SPL schemes. 85% said no new fathers / partners had taken up shared parental leave in the past two years. The schemes have been on a downward trend since 2016.
It’s unclear exactly why this is the case—but we can speculate. SPL schemes can be complex, and many businesses delay implementation until an employee asks for it (as is their statutory right). Those organisations that do offer SPL often see low uptake for the same reason—employees don’t understand how it works.
Paternity leave on the other hand, is simpler. So, if an extension to paternity leave was enacted, it would likely see more use. While this wouldn’t allow the same amount of flexibility as SPL, it would provide more options for new parents.
How long should extended paternity leave last?
The length of an extension would depend on a legislation change. This means it would undergo debate and probably see multiple revisions. Therefore, it is impossible to say for certain how long paternity leave could last if extended. If we wanted an indication, we could look to the businesses that want an extension…
When it comes to paternity leave how many days should it last? An extra week? An extra month? Referring back to the initial survey, a third of employers believe paternity leave should last an extra four weeks. Meanwhile, 29% think it should be extended to six weeks or more.
There is currently no indication that employers will get their wish. But, as the CIPD are backing calls for a change, it’s likely that the issue will at least be up for debate in the House of Commons.
Employers should keep their eyes on the issue, to see how it evolves, and whether they need to make amends to their policies to adapt to a legislative change.
Get immediate advice on the latest employment law updates
Paternity leave extensions might be an issue of the future, but there are developments that require you to make changes to your policies, handbooks, and even contracts, today.
If you are unsure how an employment law change will affect your business, you can get immediate expert advice whenever you need it. Simply call 01455 858 132 to speak to employment law experts and HR advisors today.
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