FAQs: Paternity leave

What is Ordinary Paternity Leave?

New fathers are entitled to two consecutive weeks’ paid paternity leave after the birth of their baby if they have been with the employer for at least 26 weeks, by the end of the 15th week before the week when the baby is due. Some employment contracts offer more generous terms. If working fathers are not aware of employment law, they would be best advised to contact a specialist employment solicitor for clarification.

What is Additional Paternity Leave?

If their partner has not used up all their maternity leave and returned to work, a working father may share this leave entitlement up to a maximum of 26 weeks. Additional paternity leave may be taken when the baby is between twenty weeks and one year old. A father will qualify for additional paternity leave if the child's mother had been entitled to statutory maternity leave or statutory maternity pay.

What notice must I give?

For ordinary paternity leave, an employee must give their employer 15 weeks’ written notice before the due date. This notice should include information about the week in which the baby is due, whether you intend to take one or two weeks’ leave, and the date your leave will commence. Your employer is entitled to ask for the self-certificate 'Becoming a Parent', available from HMRC.
For additional paternity leave, you must give your employer at least 8 weeks’ written notice before commencement. This notice must include items such your relationship to the mother and the expected date of your return to work.

What will I be paid during Paternity Leave?

Ordinarily, a father will be entitled to two consecutive weeks of statutory paternity pay, and the current (as of 2012) weekly rate is £128.73, or 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings, whichever is less. A father may receive additional paternity pay at the same rate for additional paternity leave, but only during the period of their working partner’s 39-week statutory maternity pay period.

Can I be dismissed for taking Paternity Leave?

An Employment lawyer can offer expert advice on making an unfair dismissal claim to an Employment Tribunal, if an employer denies your statutory rights. The rules surrounding statutory paternity leave and pay apply equally to heterosexual and same-sex couples, whether they are married, in a civil partnership or co-habiting, where one partner is having a baby or adopting a child.

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