New Paternity Rights Will Leave Dads Holding the Baby

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New rules which give men the right to six months' paternity leave, some of it paid, could lead to a role reversal in many households, say law firm DWF. The temptation will be particularly great in view of this week's ruling by the European Court of Justice that women who take time out for maternity leave have no automatic right to the same pay as male colleagues doing the same job.

New rules which give men the right to six months’ paternity leave, some of it paid, could lead to a role reversal in many households, says law firm DWF.

The firm says the changes could encourage many high-earning career women to return to work after giving birth, leaving their husband or partner at home to look after the baby. The temptation will be particularly great in view of this week’s ruling by the European Court of Justice that women who take time out for maternity leave have no automatic right to the same pay as male colleagues doing the same job.

The changes to paternity leave are to be introduced under the Work and Families Act 2006, which came into force on 1 October. The Act extends statutory maternity pay from six to nine months as from April next year and gives pregnant women the right to a full year off work.

However it also allows for additional rights for fathers, which will be introduced at an as yet unspecified date some time before the end of the current parliament. Fathers, and live-in partners of women giving birth, will be able to take up to 26 weeks’ leave, in place of the current two weeks, to care for the child during the first year of its life. Some of this leave could be paid, although details have not yet been announced.

Jo Pearce, associate with DWF, said the paternity rights issue was particularly important in view of the case of health inspector Bernadette Cadman (ECJ case: number C-17/05), who lost her claim for sex discrimination despite being paid up to £13,000 less than male colleagues doing the same job. The European Court of Justice ruled that more years of service meant greater experience and better performance which justified a higher salary, even though there was a bias against women who took time off to care for children.

Pearce said: “The change in paternity rules will give parents greater choice in how they share the burden of childcare and allow high-earning females to return to the workplace more quickly. It is likely to bring about a reversal of the traditional roles for many couples.

“In view of the European Court of Justice ruling, allowing additional paternity leave will help redress the bias against women as they will not automatically be the ones who have to take time out of their careers to bring up children.”

Notes to editors

DWF is one of the fastest growing law firms in the UK, with over 350 legal advisers (including 69 partners) and 600 staff based in Manchester and Liverpool. DWF is the largest law firm in the North West based on the number of NW based fee earners as reported in the latest Legal 500 directory. DWF services cover the following areas, delivered by specialist teams -- including leading experts in their field:

Banking & Asset finance

Business Recovery

Corporate & Commercial

Dispute Resolution

Employment Law

Health, Safety & Environment

Insurance

Property & Construction

Wealthcare

We have developed extensive sector-specific expertise in a number of areas and have created specialist groups to enable our clients to benefit from this expertise. Further information on DWF is available via http://www.dwf.co.uk

Media enquiries to:

Sam Dabbs

Dabbs PR & Marketing

T: 01939 210503 or 07050 108985

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