In June 2019, the Government published a report entitled Gender equality at every stage: a roadmap for change. The strategy was to promote gender equality.

Following on from this report, the Government launched the Good Work Plan: Proposals to support families. Part of the consultation related to parental leave and pay entitlements. The proposal aimed to provide greater equality in parenting and at work.

The Government has now published its response to this consultation and confirms its aim to do the following in future legislation:

  • Give employed fathers and partners more choice and flexibility around how and when they take their paternity leave. They will be able to take the current entitlement of up to two weeks of leave in two separate blocks of one week if they wish.
  • Give employed fathers and partners the ability to take their leave at any time in the first year, rather than just in the first eight weeks after birth or placement for adoption.
  • Change the notice requirements for paternity leave to make these more proportionate to the amount of time the father or partner plans to take off work. This will give parents more flexibility in planning to take the leave that they need.

While the response does propose some changes to paternity leave, it will be disappointing to some that these changes are very limited in scope.

The response itself acknowledges this and states “we recognise that these changes to parental leave are not the radical reforms that some respondents argued for. Given the current context and the acute pressures on employers, we are proposing measures that we believe will broaden the take-up of these important employment rights, including by those in low-paid or low-skilled jobs, or with protected characteristics, while also being affordable.”

The lack of more substantive reform means that the Government has missed a good opportunity to address the key aim of doing more to tackle gender inequality. However, the changes proposed will increase flexibility for employees without causing a significant impact to most employers.

If you have any queries on paternity leave or pay, please do not hesitate to contact a member of the employment team.

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Lubna is an experienced employment solicitor who advises a wide range of businesses on their HR issues. Lubna also specialises in tribunal litigation.

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Published: 22nd August 2023
Area: Corporate & Commercial

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