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Paternity Leave and Pay

This employment guide is a summary of your employees’ rights to paternity leave and pay.

Introduction

Eligible employees are entitled to take statutory paternity leave and pay.

A new system of shared parental leave was introduced in 2015. As a result, if a child was due to be born or placed for adoption on or after 5 April 2015 employees may be entitled to shared parental leave. Please see our separate guide on shared parental leave.

Paternity leave

Employees will need to satisfy all of the following conditions in order to qualify for paternity leave. They must:

  • Have or expect to have responsibility for the child’s upbringing.
  • Be the biological father of the child or the mother’s husband or partner.
  • Have worked continuously for you for 26 weeks leading into the 15th week before the baby is due, or worked for 26 weeks leading into the week he is matched with a child for adoption or receives official notification he has been matched with a child from abroad.

Paternity leave is not available if the employee takes shared parental leave.

Eligible employees will be entitled to take either one week or two consecutive weeks paid paternity leave. They must take the leave in complete weeks.

They can choose to start their leave from one of the following:

  • The date of the child’s birth (whether this is earlier or later than expected).
  • The date the child was placed for adoption.
  • The date the child entered the UK if adopted from abroad.

Statutory paternity leave must be completed either:

  • Within 56 days of the actual date of birth of the child, or the date the child was placed for adoption or entered the UK following adoption from abroad.

Or

  • If the child is born early, within the period from the actual date of birth up to 56 days after the expected week of birth.

Notice of intention to take paternity leave

In order to take paternity leave the employee must inform you by the 15th week before the baby is expected, unless this is not reasonably practicable. He must tell you:

  • The week the baby is due.
  • Whether he wishes to take one or two weeks leave.
  • When he wants his leave to start.

Employees are able to change their mind about the date on which they want their leave to start providing they tell you at least 28 days in advance (unless this is not reasonably practicable). If it is not reasonably practical to comply with the relevant time limits, an employee must notify you of his intended change as soon as it is reasonably practical.

Statutory paternity pay

The rate of statutory paternity pay (SPP) is the same as the standard rate of statutory maternity pay. Our advisors will be able to tell you what the current figures are – just give us a call on 01455 444 222 or contact us.

Only one period of paternity leave will be available to employees irrespective of whether more than one child is born as a result of the same pregnancy.

Contractual benefits

Employees are entitled to the benefit of their normal terms and conditions of employment, except for terms relating to wages or salary (unless their contract of employment provides otherwise), throughout their paternity leave.

If your employee has a contractual right to paternity leave as well as the statutory right he may take advantage of whichever is the more favourable.

Any paternity pay to which he has a contractual right reduces the amount of SPP to which he is entitled.

Leave for antenatal appointments

Your employee can take unpaid leave to accompany a pregnant woman to two antenatal appointments if he is:

  • The baby’s father.
  • The expectant mother’s spouse or civil partner.
  • In a long-term relationship with the expectant mother.
  • The intended parent (if he is having a baby through a surrogacy arrangement).

He can take up to 6.5 hours per appointment but you can choose to offer longer.

Return to work after paternity leave

Employees are entitled to return to the same job following paternity leave.

Protection from detriment or dismissal

Employees are legally protected from suffering unfair treatment or dismissal for taking, or seeking to take, paternity leave. Employees who believe they have been treated unfairly will be able to complain to an employment tribunal.

Employers' recovery of payments

You can recover payments of SPP to your employees in the same way as you claim back payments of Statutory Maternity Pay.

You can recover 92 per cent of the payments made – and 100 per cent if your business is eligible for small employers’ relief. You may be able to receive funding in advance from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) for payments of SPP. For further information on this please contact HMRC.

Getting it right

The rules surrounding paternity are complex. The costs of failing to meet all the legal requirements can be high – and so can the potential damage to the reputation of your business.

HR:4UK can help by providing you with the advice and support you need to ensure you fulfil your legal obligations.

For further help and advice, speak to one of our advisors by calling 01455 444222 or complete our online enquiry click here and an advisor will contact you shortly.