Currently new fathers are only entitled to two weeks off work for paternity leave however deputy head Prime Minister Nick Clegg, is encouraging a change to get men more actively involved in the care for their new born babies.
In April 2011 changes will be made to parental leave legislation, allowing mothers to transfer up to six months of their maternity leave to the father. These changes hope to reduce recruitment costs, increase employee retention, simplify a range of leave policies and permit women to return to work sooner allowing fathers to become more actively involved. However Nick Clegg wants to take the legislation changes one step further with a proposal, hoping to be implemented in 2015, to extend the transfer to fathers by up to ten months.
However if paternity leave is extended to up to 10 months, small businesses foresee problems, claiming they will struggle to cope with yet more red tape and higher costs, as many predict that the new paternity proposal could cost businesses up to £30m annually.
These costs will arise from the additional paternity pay employers will have to fork out to match what they currently pay their female staff on maternity leave, as well as the extra administration costs. Therefore with these cost disadvantages, how can HR use the new legislation and proposal to their advantage?
The new legislation for April 2011 is a fantastic chance for HR to promote their family-friendly policies to future and existing employees, in a bid to attract and retain top candidates for employment. However HR is faced with the challenge to convince chief executives to support their strategy behind the new legislation, which many are regarding as a high cost activity with no benefits.
Nick Clegg’s further proposal for 2015 will follow a public consultation before a result is achieved. However forecasts are not looking positive for the 20,000 men predicted to take a longer paternity leave, as research suggests only around 8% of employers will offer men the same parental pay perks as women.