The UK Government recently published its response to their July 2019 ‘Good Work Plan: Proposals to support families’ which outlined several upcoming changes.

These changes include:

  • Amending the Employment Rights Act 1996 which only applies in Great Britain
  • Allowing eligible ‘fathers’ to take SPL / P in two separate blocks of one week
  • Allowing this to be taken within the first 52 weeks of the birth / placement of a child
  • Requiring employees to provide employers with a ‘Notification of entitlement’ 15 weeks before the birth / placement but leave dates AND a leave request 28 days before the leave dates

There is more than the ‘father’ that is concerned about the changes, all of who will have work to do to meet the deadline:


HMRC partly administers the Leave and Pay entitlement as follows:

  • The provisions of forms SC3, SC4, and SC5 to apply for SPL
  • The provision of the dispute forms SPP1 and SPP2 (re SPP), plus
  • Online tools such as Basic PAYE Tools, eligibility checkers, calculators and guidance plus the all-important facility to request advance funding

On 10 August 2023, HMRC confirmed that secondary legislation will be introduced so flexibility is effective 06 April 2024.  Plus, legislation will be in place by 08 March 2024 to give the required 28 days ahead of the start.

Note that 08 March 2024 does not make provision for the fact that there are early births.  Therefore, we will have to watch for the legislation because, as it stands, the ‘father’ will remain entitled to the SPL and SPP, assuming they qualify, however, if Leave starts before 06 April 2024, they will not be able to take this flexibly.


Employers will have well-established and long-standing policies and procedures regarding SPL and SPP.  These will need to be changed to account for: 

  • Leave (and Pay) allowed in non-consecutive blocks of one week
  • Leave (and Pay) to be taken within 52 weeks of the birth / placement of a child
  • The ‘Notification of entitlement’ 15 weeks before the birth / placement AND
  • The leave request 28 days before the leave dates

That is without mentioning the fact it will only apply if the employee has a contract written under the Great British Employment Rights Act.

Payroll Software

Developers are advised that HMRC will provide guidance in ‘autumn 2023’.  Presumably, this will be after the legislation is made so that it can reflect that.

Professionals may ask why HMRC have not provided the usual 12-18 month notice to developers.  Anticipating HMRC’s answers, they are likely to say:

  • This is not a new development (unlike Statutory Neonatal Leave and Pay)
  • All’ software will have to do is allow the leave to be taken in non-consecutive blocks of one week over an extended period

For Bookkeepers

The important points to note are the increased flexibility for ‘fathers’ and the fact this will have to be accommodated in software.  Yet, employers are unlikely to be fully aware of the implications, so look forward to the guidance and sharing with your clients if this applies.  Two dates to note:

  • 06 April 2024 – increased flexibility starts
  • 08 March 2024 – legislation in place to allow for the 28-day notification period (ahead of flexibility starting on 06 April 2024) 

The ICB View

"The ICB welcomes HMRC’s advance guidance to software developers about the Statutory Paternity Leave and Pay flexibility from 06 April 2024.  Whilst legislation will make flexible an existing statutory entitlement, this development should not be underestimated, particularly for employers who will have to update existing policies and procedures."