Employers welcome government plans to transfer maternity leave to fathers

Employers have welcomed government plans to come up with a simple system of transferring maternity leave to fathers.

Last week, the government launched a consultation on new paternity leave proposals. The scheme would allow mothers to pass some of their statutory maternity leave (and pay) to fathers if they returned to work. This is likely to prove popular with families where the mother earns substantially more than the father.

The government proposes allowing fathers to ‘self-certify’ that their child’s mother is returning to work early, and are passing maternity entitlements over to them. The father will be required to give his employer eight weeks’ notice.

However, it is not proposed that the father’s employer should carry out any checks with the mother’s employer, although HM Revenue & Customs will carry out occasional random checks to prevent fraud.

Mike Emmott, employee relations adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, said employers had “legitimate concerns” about administrative burdens when more than one organisation was involved.

“In this context, we welcome the government’s efforts to come up with as simple a system as possible, involving a significant degree of self-certification and responsibility on the parents for completing the paperwork,” he said.

Diana Holland, national organiser for women, race and equalities at the new super-union Unite, said: “A better system would be to have separate paid maternity, paternity and parental leave to offer the most amount of choice.”

The union said fathers should also be allowed paid time off to attend antenatal classes during pregnancy.

Adoptive parents and civil partners will also be covered by the proposals. The consultation runs until 3 August.




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