Changes to paternity leave legislation 2024 in GB

Father holding new born baby in the baby nursery - paternity leave legislation

From 8th March, paternity leave legislation changes take effect for any babies born after 6th April. The UK Government published draft legislation outlining the proposed changes for taking statutory paternity leave.

The current employment law states, that employees are entitled to take only one period of paternity leave whether it’s one or two weeks, which must be taken within 56 days of the birth or adoption date. The new legislation allows the employee to take the leave in two separate blocks throughout the first 52 weeks of birth or placement.

Requirements of notification have also changed, employees still need to give notice of their entitlement 15 weeks before the expected birth date, however, will only have to give notice of the planned week of leave 28 days prior.

Currently, this legislation is only coming into effect in England, Scotland, and Wales. For Northern Ireland, we await to see the decisions made by the Government as they return to Stormont.

What businesses must do for Paternity Leave legislation changes?

Several steps businesses must take to ensure compliance with the new paternity leave legislation.

Beginning with updating company policies and documentation in line with the new employment law. Revising its paternity leave policies is the first step for employers to take, updating to include the fathers/partners’ ability to split their paternity leave, taking this during the first 52 weeks of the child’s birth or adoption. This includes updating employee handbooks and other internal documentation to ensure consistency.

Training HR departments and managers, helping to familiarise them with the changes and to understand updated rights and responsibilities. This will include tracking and approving of split paternity leave and outlining best practices for managing the more flexible leave structures.

With any policy change/update, this must be communicated to employees through internal communications, we use BreatheHR allowing automated email notifications to be pushed through when new documentation has been added and reviewed. BreatheHR also lets you see if the employee has read it or not.

Provide clear instructions for requesting paternity leave following the new regulations, this includes required documentation and notice periods. Employers should continually monitor the uptake of paternity leave and patterns, understanding if there is any support employees need during this time.

Gender equality and paternity leave legislation

The amendments to legislation allow for greater flexibility in the workplace, this flexibility may help in normalising the involvement of both parents in childcare from an early age. Reducing the potential financial burden on the main financial provider is also important, especially since the mother is on maternity leave with reduced income.

The statutory paternity leave entitlement in the UK is either £172.48 per week or 90% of the average weekly earnings in 2024 (source:, whichever is lower.

As the financial element remains, fathers/partners may still be reluctant to take full entitlement, as pay entitlement may be considerably lower than normal. Deep-rooted gender stereotypes about gender roles involving childcare play a huge role in the success of this legislation change.

Many critics feel the duration of paternity leave in the UK is still minimal compared to many countries in Europe. Two weeks to bond with your child doesn’t feel a sufficient amount of time, to reach gender equality in this aspect.

Other countries winning at Paternity leave entitlements.

Sweden has one of the most generous paternity leave entitlements across the globe, parents are entitled to 480 days of parental leave combined. 90 days of the 480 days are reserved for each parent. This leave may be consumed until the child turns 8 years old, splitting the leave up in various patterns/periods. The parents can take it concurrently or separately. 2

Payments during this period are 80% of the salary (capped at a certain limit) for 390 days and for the remaining 90 days a flat rate is paid.

Another example is Norway, parental leave is 49 weeks at 100% pay or 59 weeks at 80% pay, 15 weeks of the entitlement are reserved for the father/partner. The pay is subject to a cap but is typically based on the individual’s income. The father/partner can reserve weeks independently of the mother/partner’s leave, additional leave can be split between both parents.

The UK paternity leave entitlement is far behind other countries within Europe, Spain entitlement includes 16 weeks of paternity leave at 100% pay with the first 6 weeks taken immediately after the child is born. The new legislation is a welcome move to reduce the potential financial burden on the sole financial earner, but more work is needed to reach gender equality giving fathers/partners more time to bond with their child.

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