A new Department of Trade and Industry consultation on paternity leave and pay published today focuses on giving working parents the right to choose who cares for a child in their first year of life.
Alan Johnson, trade and industry secretary, said: “Increasingly, fathers want to play a more active role in bringing up their children, and many mothers want to return to work. We want to ensure that parents have choice in who looks after their children and can decide how to best balance working with family responsibilities.”
The consultation seeks views on how additional paternity and maternity leave and the pay scheme will work in practice and how it can be as straightforward as possible for employees and employers.
The consultation sets out proposals to offer fathers the opportunity to choose to take up to 26 weeks' Additional Paternity Leave to care for children under the age of one.
This additional leave can only be taken if the mother has chosen to return to work, and both parents will not be entitled to take leave at the same time.
Views are being sought on the following points:
- Eligibility criteria for leave and pay, including length of service with an employer. The consultation provides three options including six months, one year and a minimum of 60 weeks.
- The earliest point when additional paternity leave and pay could be taken. The consultation proposes 20 weeks from the date of the child's birth.
- Rights to return to work and terms and conditions while on additional paternity leave. For example, whether fathers' rights should be the same as a mother’s Ordinary or Additional Maternity leave.
- Details of how the scheme will operate in practice and administration of the scheme, including a suggested eight-week notice period.
The consultation document can be found at www.dti.gov.uk/er/workandfamilies.htm