Working Families research: Employers prepared for additional paternity leave

More than half (60%) of employers have already updated their policies to reflect the introduction of additional paternity leave (APL) and additional statutory paternity pay (ASPP), according to a survey carried out by Working Families.

The APL Survey, which polled 250 employers, aimed to determine UK organisations’ readiness for the changes to be introduced for parents of babies due on or after 3 April 2011. The regulations were passed in April 2010.

Additional paternity leave allows eligible fathers to take between two and 26 weeks leave during the child’s first year of life (in addition to ordinary paternity leave of two weeks at the time of the child’s birth). APL cannot begin until the baby is 20 weeks old and is dependant on the mother returning to work within her maternity leave period.

Additional statutory paternity pay is available to eligible fathers where the mother returns to work with at least two weeks of statutory maternity payments not taken. In effect the mother stops being paid statutory maternity pay and the father starts being paid ASPP. The maximum amount of statutory payments the family can take is 39 weeks.

The survey found 64% respondents saw the new regulations as a legal obligation that they will have to comply with. A minority (19%) of the employers that have made policy changes plan to pay fathers six weeks on full pay when they take APL.

Two out of three employers who have made policy changes plan to pay fathers only the statutory paternity pay of £128.73 per week (or 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings, whichever is lower) during additional paternity leave even though 65% of these offer enhanced maternity pay for the equivalent weeks to a female employee on maternity leave.

Sarah Jackson, chief executive at Working Families, said: “It is surprising that 40% of employers report they are not yet prepared for the change in the law. Parents of babies due on or after 3 April may already want to discuss their plans to share leave. 

“I am pleased to see how many employers recognise the benefits of treating fathers well and will offer above the minimum statutory payments. Many fathers do not take ordinary paternity leave now because they cannot afford to lose pay at a time when family costs increase.

“Our research also shows that giving fathers greater control and flexibility to improve their work-life balance improves their loyalty and commitment to an organisation.”

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