Paternity leave and pay
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.
To qualify you will have to be an employee and worked continuously for your 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.
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) and
- 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
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 2013 was £136.78 per week or 90 per cent of your average weekly earning, if that is less. Employers may, however, give more and this and may form part of your terms and conditions of employment.
The employee will need to take their paternity leave within 56 days of the actual date of birth of the child, or if the child is born early, within the period from the actual date of birth up to 56 days after the first day of the week in which the birth was expected.
Additional paternity leave and pay
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 leave is taken 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.
Reform of flexible parental leave
Under a new system of flexible parental leave, parents will be able to choose how they share care of their child in the first year after birth. Employed mothers will still be entitled to 52 weeks of maternity, however, working parents will be able to opt to share the leave.
Mothers will have to take at least the initial two weeks of leave following the birth as a recovery period. Following that they can choose to end the maternity leave and the parents can opt to share the remaining leave as flexible parental leave.
The Government will legislate on this next year and will introduce the changes to flexible parental leave in 2015. Further information is available from the GOV.UK - Reform of flexible parental leave.
Questions and answers
Is any time off allowed with pay to attend antenatal appointments?
No there is no legal right to paid time off, however some employers may make arrangements for you to attend: you could take some annual leave; or it may be possible to swap shifts or make time up. These arrangements must be agreed with your employer in advance
When does an employee need to tell the employer when they are going to take Paternity Leave?
They should tell the employer as soon as possible, 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.
Can any paternity leave be taken before the baby is born?
No, paternity leave can not start until the birth of the baby; however employees may be able to take some annual leave before.
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