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It's extra time out for dads.

DADS have been given the right to take greater paternity leave. The changes in employment law are aimed at providing extra flexibility and shifting people away from outdated ideas of the stay-athome mum and the father as sole breadwinner.

All fathers of children born or adopted on or after April 3 will have the right to claim additional paternity leave (APL) of between two weeks and six months.

This is a significant increase from the existing ordinary paternity leave entitlement of just two weeks.

Change brings its own complications - fathers need to understand their new rights and employers need to re-evaluate their processes accordingly.

These rights apply to the father or the spouse/partner/civil partner of the mother, so apply equally to same sex partners.

FATHERS' RIGHTS Fathers will now have the right to take two separate periods of leave. Up to two weeks' ordinary paternity leave (OPL) must be taken within eight weeks of the birth or adoption date.

APL must be taken in a window starting 20 weeks after birth and ending 12 months after birth/ adoption.

A father cannot take APL while the mother is still on maternity leave, only when she returns.

In addition, the right to receive additional statutory paternity pay (ASPP) is not a free-standing entitlement.

A father's entitlement to payment depends on the number of weeks of maternity allowance, maternity pay or adoption pay that remain unused when the mother returns to work.

It could be that a lot, if not all, of any APL will be unpaid.

Fathers will have to take this into account when deciding whether to use the APL available to them. In order to qualify for APL, some eligibility criteria must be satisfied.

These include length of continuous employment, evidence that the father has the main responsibility (along with the mother) for the child's upbringing, sufficient notice of his intention to take APL and evidence that the mother has returned from maternity leave.

Anyone who is thinking of taking APL should seek advice from his human resources department or the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS).

employerS' REQUIREMENTS APL will bring about big changes for employers as well. They should consider now how they need to change their processes to preserve the rights of their employees.

It is the responsibility of the employee to "self certify" their entitlement to take APL.

But the employer can take steps to ensure they are protected against fraudulent claims by making sure they ask the appropriate questions.

A sound grasp of the evidence that must be provided by an employee will help protect the employer.

Employers must also ensure that their processes do not leave them open to claims from employees of detrimental or unfair treatment.

Employees are entitled to the benefit of all their terms and conditions of employment while on APL, except those about remuneration.

Employers are obliged to treat any employees who seek to take paternity leave fairly.

Time will tell as to how these changes go down. Anyone who is not sure is advised to seek advice from a solicitor.

? Stuart Neilson is a member of the Law Society of Scotland's Employment Law Committee and an employment partner at McGrigors in Glasgow
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Apr 14, 2011
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