Changes in paternity leave laws allow mother to transfer some of her paid maternity leave

Changes in paternity laws this April will allow a mother to transfer three months of her paid maternity leave to the father. Here we ask female entrepreneurs how the new legislation will affect their businesses.

Wendy Tan White, founder of DIY website company Moonfruit

Most SMEs worry about maternity leave in some form. But it’s all about forward planning. Everyone should be made replaceable and men and women should have the same rights.

Although employers are meant to provide equal opportunities, I think the issue of taking maternity leave often crosses their minds when they are interviewing and can influence their decisions. So I think this change in legislation will lead to more people being employed on the basis of their skills.

It should encourage female entrepreneurship. We’re already seeing the rise in the ‘mumpreneur’ and this will help give women further options in running their businesses.

Louise Munro, owner of Lifestyle Accounting and member of the Association of Accounting Technicians

I think it’s good that they are trying to make things more equal. But from a small business perspective, it is really hard when someone takes maternity leave. Personally, I’m dreading the day when my staff take it, as it will be disruptive to the business. It’s possible that this may make things worse for some employers.

However, if I did get pregnant again, I imagine I would transfer some of my maternity leave to my husband (who also works for my company), because I am more qualified than him. So in some respects, this is a really good change.

Clare Bampton, founder of Bampton Communications

When I became pregnant my business was still very much in the fledgling stage. So being able to get back to work with my husband taking some of the childcare responsibilities would have been very beneficial. It wouldn’t have affected our joint income, as we were both on comparable wages.

I know some will worry about increased red tape, but I believe we should look at the wider economic picture. Obviously I agree that stability is key, but when you look at the projected take-up of people who this will affect, it’s not going to undermine the economy.

It’s important to let women entrepreneurs contribute too. We’ve got as much to offer as our male counterparts.

Also see: Can I work on my business while claiming maternity benefit?

Small businesses should start preparing for changes in paternity laws, say legal experts

This follows new legislation set to allow a father up to six months leave while the mother returns to work.

Angela Armar, employment solicitor at Davenport Lyons, says: ‘With maternity leave you need at least 15 weeks’ notice, but for paternity leave the father only has to give eight weeks’ notice, so there’s less time to make contingency plans.

‘Small businesses should review their policies now and make sure they have a good back-up system in place. They should also express that while eight weeks’ notice is the minimum requirement, they would encourage employees to let them know as soon as possible if they intend to take time off.

Armar expects the new laws to lead to more employment tribunals: ‘Employers need to be very careful how they deal with employees and not be flippant because it’s the father who’s asking for leave instead of the mother.’

Under the new laws, a mother will be able to transfer the last three months of her paid maternity leave to the father, who after this period can then take an additional three months’ unpaid leave

David Price, head of employee relations at Peninsula, is concerned that the new system could be open to abuse. He says: ‘A number of our clients are concerned with the practicality of how it’s going to be transferred. It’s a self-certification system, so the male employee will not have to provide proof that he is a father to be.

‘Employers need to have clear rules and expectations. Small businesses are worried at the moment, as they’ve never had to factor in the possibility of male employees taking time off before.’

Related Topics

Paternity leave

Leave a comment