Paternity changes proposed

In July 2019 (before the COVID pandemic hit the U.K.) the Government consulted on high-level options for reforming parental leave and pay with a view to achieving greater equality in parenting and at work. They sought views on the benefits, costs and trade-offs that would flow from any reform.

Their claimed aim is for UK to be one of the best places to work in the world. They want to build skills, increase productivity, and move to a high wage economy that delivers this ambition.

The government intend to continue to prioritise labour market policies which have the potential to benefit the most people whilst at the same time ensuring they balance burdens on businesses and taxpayers.

What are the future changes?

Future legislation will:

  1. Give employed fathers and partners more choice and flexibility around how and when they take their Paternity Leave. They will be able to take the current entitlement of up to two weeks of leave in two separate blocks of one week of leave if they wish.
  2. Give employed fathers and partners the ability to take their leave at any time in the first year, rather than just in the first eight weeks after birth or placement for adoption.
  3. Change the notice requirements for Paternity Leave to make these more proportionate to the amount of time the father or partner plans to take off work. This will give parents more flexibility in planning to take the leave that they need.

Changes to notice

Currently, fathers are required to notify their employer of their leave dates 15 weeks before the expected week of childbirth. This seems excessive given that the maximum leave fathers can take is two weeks.

The government propose that fathers-to-be give their notice of entitlement 15 weeks before birth and give 28 days’ notice before the dates that they intend to take each period of leave (and pay, where they qualify).

Shared Parental Leave and Pay (ShPP)

To aid parents, the government have also built an online tool in June 2021 which allows parents to check if they are eligible for Shared Parental Leave and Pay and plan their leave.


The statutory position on parental leave continues to operate in full weeks of 7 days. Although the start can be on any calendar day, limitations still apply.

Some employers have already (and unofficially) been offering more flexible paternity arrangements with permitting splits on leave and pay. Some may have even applied split SPP payments although not strictly permitted until the future changes are applied.

PAYadvice.UK 5/7/2023

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