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New paternity leave rules come into effect


New fathers may be able to take up to six months’ leave during their baby’s first year after changes to the paternity leave regulations came into effect.


As announced by the previous Labour Government, a new right to additional statutory paternity pay (ASPP) applies to fathers of children due or matched for adoption on or after 3 April 2011.


The new right essentially allows women who qualify for statutory maternity leave to transfer a proportion of their leave to their partner, by offering men up to 26 weeks of leave to care for their child if the mother returns to work before the end of her allowed leave period.


If taken before the final three months of the maternity pay period, the relevant part of the father’s leave will be paid at the statutory rates.


The leave is in addition to the two weeks’ paternity leave already offered to new fathers.


As well as changes to the paternity leave regulations, the Government will also begin phasing out the Default Retirement Age from April.


While the changes have been welcomed by trade union bodies, some business leaders have warned that they may be damaging to small firms.


According to a study by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), over half (52%) of the 1,300 businesses surveyed said that they expected the additional paternity leave requirements to be detrimental to their businesses.


‘In the face of promises by the Government to listen to the needs of business and cut red tape, these two new pieces of employment regulation will hit businesses hard,’ said BCC Director General, David Frost.


The Coalition Government has signalled that a fully flexible system of shared parental leave may be in force by 2015.