Worcestershire employers warned over legal hurdles as draft paternity laws are released

A leading Worcestershire employment lawyer has warned businesses to ensure they are ‘one step ahead’ following the government publishing new draft paternity leave legislation.

The warning has come from award-winning employment specialist Sally Morris who has spoken out just days after Whitehall unveiled the Paternity Leave Amendment Regulations 2024 which will apply to parents whose children are born or adopted on or after 6 April this year.

The new rules will allow fathers or partners to separate statutory paternity leave into two blocks of one week within the first year – different to the current paternity rules which sees them made to take one continuous block of leave of one or two weeks within the first eight weeks.

From April, employees will only have to give 28 days’ notice of their intention to take paternity leave. The previous obligation was 15 weeks.

Ms Morris, partner and head of employment and HR services at law firm mfg Solicitors, said: “These government changes have been on the horizon for several months and actually come in alongside other family-friendly policies such as changes to flexible working right, improved redundancy protection, and the introduction of carers leave.

“However, the paternity rule changes are significant as from April they move the goalposts and will see businesses and HR teams having to not only be more prepared, but ensuring their paperwork, templates, handbooks and a host of other print or digital literature is amended in time and in-line with the new rules.

“The rules give more power back to parents which in a post-pandemic world is widely welcomed, but it does mean all businesses must be well-read on the rules and what it means for them.

“As with all employment legislation changes, it needs companies to stay one step ahead so they can advise employees properly, but also to protect themselves.”

For any further advice on the changes, readers can contact Sally through email on  sally.morris@mfgsolicitors.com.