Paternity Leave Rights

As a employee, you will qualify for statutory paternity leave on the birth of your baby if you:

  • have (or expect to have) responsibility for the baby's upbringing;
  • are the biological father of the baby; and/or
  • the mother's husband or partner (including same-sex partner or civil partner).

In order to be entitled to paternity leave, you must:

  • have at least 26 weeks' continuous employment ending with the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth (the qualifying week).
  • be working for your employer from the qualifying week up to the date of birth. If your contract ends before the birth, you do not qualify for leave unless you go on to work for an associated employer. If your contract ends after the birth, you retain your right to leave (and pay if you qualify).
  • have notified your employer of your intention to take paternity leave before the end of the qualifying week.
  • be taking the time off to support the mother and/or care for the baby.

If you meet the conditions above, you can take either one or two weeks' paternity leave (where a week is a period of seven days). You cannot take individual days off and if you take two weeks, these must be taken consecutively. Paternity leave cannot be taken before the baby's birth and must be taken within 56 days of the birth. 

The period of leave can begin either on the day the baby is born, or a number of days or weeks after the baby is born, or from a specific date after the first day of the week in which the baby is expected to be born.  Paternity leave is also available to couples adopting a child from within the UK or overseas but the notification rules are different. 

Antenatal Appointments

From 1 October 2014 fathers and partners (with no minimum service requirements) have the right to paid unpaid time off to accompany a pregnant women to up to two antenatal appointments for up to 6.5 hours each. 

Shared Parental Leave

Shared Parental Leave supersedes additional paternity leave which allowed eligible spouses and partners to take up to 26 weeks additional paternity leave if the mother, partner, civil partner or co-adopter returns to work. 

Parental Leave (SPL) provides couples (who are expecting or are adopting a child on or after 5th April 2015) greater flexibility when it comes to deciding who cares for their child in the first year.  It basically enables the mother to cut short her maternity leave and request along with her partner (if they qualify) SPL.

In brief it will:-

Enable the mother to convert up to 50 weeks of her maternity leave (and a proportion of her statutory maternity pay) and share it with her partner.

SPL can be taken as one block or in up to 3 blocks of leave (each block of leave being for a minimum of a week).

SPL allows the unused proportion of Statutory Maternity Pay to be picked up by the mother’s partner and paid by the partner’s employer.

There are complex notification procedures and managing it could be tricky for employers; for example, employers cannot refuse a request for continuous SPL but they can refuse SPL when requested in separate blocks.

In order for SPL to work well both parties need to liaise early on with their employers about their intentions use SPL. There is an emphasis on all parties working together and a willingness to compromise important too.

ACAS have produced a comprehensive “good practice” guide which consists of 42 pages which is indicative of the number of issues and procedures both employer and employer need to be conscious of. 

If you believe that your paternity rights are being compromised, or you simply want more information about your rights, Ashby Cohen can help you. We specialise in employment law cases, and our years of experience as employment lawyers make us especially qualified to assist you with any paternity leave issues you may have. Please contact us for an initial free consultation.

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