Fathers to children born on or after 3 April 2011 will be entitled to 6 months of paternity leave and can take a share of the mother’s entitlement to maternity pay under new regulations coming into force in April 2010. The regulations are part of the Government’s plan to enable fathers to play a bigger part in bringing up their children by balancing work and caring responsibilities. The Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) intends for these regulations to pave the way for gender neutral parental rights by as early as 2020. While there is undoubted benefit in encouraging fathers to take a greater role in childcare and reducing instances of discrimination against female employees, the immediate reality will be increased administration burdens for businesses. Business lobby groups have sought unsuccessfully to postpone the introduction of the regulations, given that the economy has only just limped out of recession for the first time in 18 months. By its own calculation, the Government expects the costs to UK businesses to be anywhere between 25-137 million pounds. The main impact on business will be managing leave and pay once an employee has requested to take their entitlement. Businesses need to take action now. Employees with the required length of service can start notifying employers of their intention to take paternity leave as soon as 3 June 2010. To assert their right, employees will only have to produce written declarations from themselves and the child’s mother confirming that they meet the qualifying criteria. There is no provision for a business to verify the mother’s employment situation with her employer. Businesses must also consider the Data Protection Act implications of gathering personal information from their employees and the child’s mother. In order to minimise the impact of the new paternity leave regulations (and to ensure that the entitlement is not abused) businesses must have effective reporting and notification procedures in place well in advance of 3 April 2011. Clegg Manuel LLP is working with UK companies in a wide range of industries to ensure that they fully understand the implications of the new paternity leave regulations and that they establish appropriate paternity leave guidelines for their business to minimise cost and risk. For further information on the new paternity leave legislation and employment law in general please contact Andrew Young by email: andrew.young@cleggmanuel.co.uk or phone: 020 7847 5608.