Employment law updates

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Extended paternity leave for new dads, time off for training and “fit notes” are some of the key changes to legislation being highlighted by Coodes Solicitors’ employment specialist.

Head of the employment law team Emma Bramley is advising businesses on the changes, which come into effect yesterday (April 6).

A significant update for couples with a baby on the way is the right to extended paternity leave of up to six months for dads whose child is due on or after April 3 2011.

Fathers are eligible if the mother or primary carer has returned to work without exercising their full entitlement and the child is aged between 20 weeks and one year old.

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Bramley explained: “This is a great opportunity for parents to share childcare arrangements during the first year, for example the mother can return to work after 20 weeks while the father takes on parenting for the remainder”.

“This also applies to parents who are adopting a child from the UK or overseas. There are restrictions however, so it’s worth employers and employees finding out more from an employment specialist.”

Other key changes that businesses should be aware of from April 6 is that, depending on the size of the employer, employees will have the right to request time off for training or studying to further their performance at work.

And if an employee is sick, GPs will now be able to issue new “fit notes”.

This will confirm whether the staff member is not fit for work, may be fit for work, or may be fit for work taking account of medical advice.