New research from uSwitch for Business has found that 39% of small business owners believe small firms should be exempt from new paternity leave rules due to take effect from 3 April this year.

Three in ten of those questioned said it may be necessary to adapt hiring policies to try and stem future losses from staff absences.

James Constant, Director of, said:
“The rules were designed to create more flexibility, but in fact may be forcing SMEs into a corner and could potentially lead to a less competitive job market. Our research shows that SMEs are prepared to change their hiring policy as a result of what many see as punitive new paternity leave rules.”

The new Regulations will entitle fathers with babies born after 3 April 2011 to the right to take up to six months’ paternity leave. Under current legislation, new fathers are only entitled to two weeks’ paid paternity leave.

The uSwitch research follows recent news that the Government could announce plans to give companies with ten or fewer employees the right to negotiate maternity and paternity leave ‘deals’ directly with their workers. The Telegraph, which sourced the information through a leaked file, reports that the proposals could be announced in the Budget later this month.

Constant added:
“It will come as a relief to those employing less than ten people that the Government is considering a reprieve for them. But this in itself could then be a barrier to expansion or taking on more staff.”