This section explains who is entitled to statutory paternity leave and what the entitlement is.
What is Paternity Leave?
Until recently, there wee two types of paternity leave: Ordinary Paternity Leave and Additional Paternity Leave.
Who is Entitled to Ordinary Paternity Leave?
Employees who meet the following qualifying conditions:
- have (or expect to have) responsibility for the child’s upbringing;
- be the biological father of the child or married to, the civil partner or partner of the mother (the partner can be of the same sex as the mother);
- have worked continuously for 26 weeks leading into the 15th week before the week the baby is due; and
- have average weekly earnings of at least the lower earnings limit for National Insurance purposes.
Ordinary paternity leave can start any time in the first eight weeks after the baby is born (unless the baby is born early in which case it can be started any time up to eight weeks after it was expected to be born).
An employer can ask the employee to provide a self-certificate to prove that they meet these conditions.
The self-certificate must state that the employee meets the eligibility criteria and give the relevant notice.
Employees who are adopting a child are also entitled to receive paternity leave and pay for a child who is newly placed for adoption. When a couple adopt, they can choose which parent takes paternity leave and which takes adoption leave.
What is the Length of Ordinary Paternity Leave?
Employees who meet the conditions are entitled to take paternity leave as a single period of either one or two consecutive weeks’ duration
(not odd days).
Paternity leave can start:
- from the date of the child’s birth, or
- from a chosen number of days/weeks after the date of the child’s birth, or
- from a chosen date.
The only condition is that leave must be completed within 56 days of the actual date of birth of the child. If the child arrives earlier than expected, the leave must be taken at any time between the actual birth and within 56 days of the expected week of birth.
An employee is only entitled to one period of paternity leave even if more than one child is born as a result of the same pregnancy.
What is the Notice Requirement for Ordinary Paternity Leave?
Employees will need to notify the employer of the following:
- the expected week of childbirth;
- whether they want to take one or two weeks’ leave;
- when they want their leave to start.
They must notify you of these facts and of their intention to take paternity leave by the 15th week before the baby is expected unless it is not reasonably practicable to do so. They can change their mind about the date they wish to start their leave by letting you know at least 28 days in advance (unless this is not reasonably practicable).
Are there any other Entitlements during Ordinary Paternity Leave?
Employees are entitled to return to the same job following paternity leave. During paternity leave, they are entitled to the benefit of their normal terms and conditions of employment (except for those relating to wages or salary, unless contract provides otherwise).
Employees are also protected from suffering a detriment or dismissal for taking or trying to take paternity leave. Where this does occur the employee can complain to an Employment Tribunal.
What is Additional Paternity Leave?
Additional paternity leave was introduced by the Additional Paternity Leave Regulations 2010 (APL Regulations 2010) which came into force in April 2010 but only applied to parents of babies due on or after 3 April 2011. Additional paternity leave and additional paternity pay have since been abolished.