James AustinLCF Law 11.05.21

LCF Law, a leading legal firm based in Bradford, is gearing up to navigate the significant changes in legislation surrounding paternity leave and flexible working set to take effect in April 2024. With an eye on aiding both employers and employees, the firm sheds light on the key differences emerging from these amendments.

The Paternity Leave Amendment Regulations 2024 bring about a notable shift in policy, particularly affecting cases where the expected week of childbirth lands on or after April 6th, 2024. Fathers or partners will now have the option to split their paternity leave into two separate one-week blocks within the first 52 weeks following the birth or adoption of a child. This contrasts with previous regulations, where parents of children born prior to this date were obliged to take a single continuous block of one or two weeks of paternity leave within the initial eight weeks after birth.

Moreover, the amended legislation reduces the notice period required for employees intending to take paternity leave from 15 weeks before the expected childbirth to just 28 days.

In a parallel move, the Flexible Working (Amendment) Regulations 2023, also effective from April 6th, 2024, grant employees the right to request flexible working arrangements from the outset of their employment. Previously, individuals were mandated to complete 26 weeks of continuous service before making such requests.

Employment law specialist and LCF Law partner, James Austin, explained: “The changes to flexible working in particular could have major ramifications for employers. The term ‘flexible working’ covers a broad scope of circumstances including working patterns, hours, part-time, flexi-time, term-time, compressed hours and adjusting start and finish times, as well as location or working from home.

“However, it’s worth remembering that not every request for flexible working has to be granted, but the changes do require employers to consult with employees before they reject their flexible working requests.

“Employers will also have just two months to respond to flexible working requests rather than the three months they had prior to these changes, and employees will be able to make two flexible working requests per year, compared to a single request under the previous rules. Finally, employees will no longer have to explain what effect their request could have on the employer and how this could be dealt with.

“These are all significant changes that employers need to be aware of because relevant HR, paternity and flexible working policies have to be updated. HR teams should also make management teams aware in case they have to answer queries around these topics, as well as plan for and manage absences. It’s also important that managers know the process for dealing with and handling both paternity and flexible working requests, and these are all areas where an experienced employment lawyer can help and add value.”

LCF Law, an acclaimed full-service legal firm operating regionally, nationally, and internationally, boasts a team of over 145 professionals across offices in Leeds, Bradford, Harrogate, and Ilkley.