The Paternity Leave and Benefit Act 2016 introduced statutory paternity leave of 2 weeks together with a new Paternity Benefit. The legislation allows new fathers to start the combined package of paternity leave and Paternity Benefit at any time within the first 6 months following birth or adoption of a child. The provisions apply to births and adoptions on or after 1 September 2016. At least 4 weeks' notice of intention to take paternity leave must be given together with proof of the expected date of birth of the child.
Male employees may also be entitled to parental leave. Parental leave entitles both parents who qualify to take a period of up to 18 weeks' unpaid leave from employment in respect of children up to 8 years of age.
Although there is no statutory obligation to pay maternity leave over the state benefit entitlement, many employers top up maternity state benefits either partially or in full. Those employers may need to consider their position on top up pay for paternity benefit and take into account gender equality considerations. Employers should also review their leave policies.
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