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Paternity leave and pay

Key points:

If you are a father to be or will share the responsibility with a partner for bringing up a child, you may have the right to Statutory Paternity Leave and Pay. This includes those who are adopting a child.

Paternity leave is available to employees who:

  • have or expect to have responsibility for the child's upbringing
  • are the biological father of the child or the mother's husband or partner (including same sex relationships)
  • have worked continuously for their employer for 26 weeks ending with the 15th week before the baby is due or the end of the week in which the child's adopter is notified of being matched with the child
  • give the correct notice.

Employees should tell their employer as soon as possible that they wish to take paternity leave, but no later than the end of the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth. They should say when the baby is due, if they're going to take one or two weeks off, and when they expect their paternity leave to start. Those who are eligible can choose to take either one week or two consecutive weeks' paid paternity leave (not odd days). Employees may be entitled to Statutory Paternity Pay which from April 2014 is £138.18 per week or 90 per cent of your average weekly earning, if that is less. Employers may, however, give more and this may form part of your terms and conditions of employment.

Employees will need to take their paternity leave within 56 days of the actual date of birth of the child. Paternity leave can not start until the birth of the baby; employees may be able to take some annual leave before.

There is no legal right to paid time off for antenatal appointments, however, some employers may allow employees to take annual leave; or to swap shifts or make time up. These arrangements must be agreed with your employer in advance.

Reforms - Shared Parental Leave

Shared Parental Leave is a new right that will enable eligible mothers, fathers, partners and adopters to choose how to share time off work after their child is born or placed. This could mean that the mother or adopter shares some of the leave with her partner, perhaps returning to work for part of the time and then resuming leave at a later date.

The regulations are currently before parliament and are due to come into force 1 December 2014. The options to use the new Shared Parental Leave rights will apply for parents who meet the eligibility criteria, where a baby is due to be born on or after 5 April 2015, or for children who are placed for adoption on or after that date.

Additional paternity leave and pay

Additional paternity leave and pay will no longer be available for babies due after 5 April 2015.

Additional paternity leave allows employee's who are eligible to take up to 26 weeks leave to care for their new baby.

Additional paternity leave and pay may be available if:

  • you are the father of a child, partner or civil partner
  • you and your partner receive notification that you are matched with a child for adoption
  • your wife, partner or civil partner is adopting a child from overseas and the child enters Great Britain
  • the child's mother is entitled to statutory maternity leave, maternity pay or allowance or statutory adoption leave or pay.

Additional paternity leave is for a maximum of 26 weeks. Leave can be taken any time from 20 weeks after the child is born, but it must have finished by the child's first birthday. In the case of adoption it can start anytime between 20 weeks and 52 weeks after the child starts living with the adopter.

To qualify for additional paternity leave and pay employers must receive notice in writing at least eight weeks before the start of the leave. This must include:

  • the expected date of the baby's birth or date of notified of being matched for adoption 
  • the actual date of baby's birth, or placement of adoption 
  • the start date of the Additional Paternity leave and pay 
  • relationship to the mother, and the leave being requested is to care for the child

For Additional Paternity leave and pay to be taken the child's mother or adopter must have started working again and any relevant payment must have stopped, with at least two weeks of the 39 week payment period remaining. Employees must intend to care for the child during your Additional Statutory Paternity Pay period. Additional Statutory Paternity Pay is only payable during the period of the 39 week Maternity Allowance, Statutory Maternity or Statutory Adoption Pay period. It cannot continue beyond the end of the statutory maternity pay, maternity allowance or statutory adoption pay period.

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