The UK Government had planned to give fathers the right to claim up to 6 months paternity leave from April 2010, however, because of the economic slowdown, they have decided to postpone the changes.
The legislation is already in place to give the extra paternity leave but the government has decided it will not be implemented until the economy can cope. As a result fathers are still only entitled to two weeks paternity leave, which is usually taken immediately after the baby is born.
In addition, from April 2010, mothers and adopters were also going to have the right to claim statutory maternity pay for up to 12 months, as opposed to the current 9 months, but it looks as though the government has also put this plan on hold.
Maternity pay and paternity leave legislation in more detail:
The Work and Families Act 2006 already allows regulations to be made that would permit working fathers to take up to 26 weeks of paternity leave, some of which can be paid, if the mother returns to work before the end of the one-year maternity leave period to which she is entitled.
The new provision would be available during the second six months of the child’s life, so in effect, fathers would be able to ‘share’ some of the maternity leave which is currently only preserved for the mother. The entitlement would also extend to couples who are adopting and to partners and civil partners of mothers.
A Government spokesman has now said that the Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform is continuing to review the appropriateness of all new regulations due to come into force in the current economic climate and as a result, a date has not yet been announced for extending paternity rights.
At the same time, the Government had also proposed to extend statutory maternity pay and statutory adoption pay from 9 to 12 months, to bring it into line with the period of maternity and adoption leave, but it looks as if this is also on hold.