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Employers are worried about the cost and administrative burden of Additional Paternity Leave

Employers are concerned that the new Additional Paternity Leave (APL) rules will negatively impact their companies, according to law firm Davies Arnold Cooper.

The report shows 82% of employers surveyed think cost, absence or administrative burdens prove harmful.

The main employer concerns are cost of providing cover (35%), too many employees being absent (8%), administration costs (2%) or all of the above (48%)

But most employers (74%) think less than a quarter of eligible employees would take advantage of their new right to APL, which will enable new fathers to request up to six months' paternity leave from April 2011 onwards.

The finding, that 64% of companies say at present less than a quarter of eligible employees in their organisations took any paternity leave, reinforces this.

When respondents stated they expected APL to be taken, half (53%) believed that employees would take less than one month of leave, while a further 43% believed employees would take no more than between one and three months.

Only 2% of respondents expect any of their employees to take the maximum six months available. 

The self-certification process for the father concerned 76% of respondents, while 94% indicated they would prefer to be provided with information from the mother's employer and a copy of the birth/adoption certificate automatically.

Whilst HMRC is going to undertake spot compliance checks, it does not seem that this sufficiently reassures employers. On a more positive note, 30% of respondents believed a benefit would be that mothers would return to work earlier and 42% also believed that greater flexibility in respect of childcare was advantageous to their organisation.

 Wendy Trehy, partner and employment law specialist at Davies Arnold Cooper, said: "Despite the fact that there was a significant amount of consultation undertaken by the Government on the introduction of APL, employer opinion is divided and significant concerns remain. We will have to wait and see how many fathers do take up this right, what the costs to employers ultimately are and if this has the adverse impacts feared.

"Carefully tailored policies can eliminate many areas of concern; however, the cost to business will only be able to be assessed once we see how APL works with existing legislation."