Under the new paternity rules which came into effect on the 3rd aprill 2011, parents can now share leave from work during their baby’s first year,

The Regulations give certain employees the right to 26 weeks’ additional paternity leave (APL) in addition to the two weeks’ ordinary paternity leave currently available.

The changes mean that if a mother returns to work without taking a full year’s maternity leave, the father will be able to take the remaining time, up to a maximum of six months.

The new rules confer the right to take APL on the child’s biological father or the spouse or partner (of either sex) of the child’s mother; or, in relation to the adoption of a child, the spouse or partner (of either sex) of the person who, having been matched for adoption, has elected to take adoption leave.

The entitlement is to one period of APL which must be taken to care for the child;
in multiples of complete weeks and which last between two weeks and 26 weeks; and
within a ‘window’, starting 20 weeks after, and ending 12 months after, the child’s date of birth or placement for adoption.

The TUC general secretary, Brendan Barber, welcomed the change to paternity leave.

He said: “Good employers should have nothing to fear from these employment changes, which have been consulted on extensively over the last few years.”