Paternity Leave is the term given to a special period of paid leave from work. The leave is taken following the birth or adoption of a baby or child and is in addition to any other holiday entitlement. You are entitled to Paternity Leave if you are employed and are the father or a person who, together with the mother, will be jointly responsible for a child. April 2011 also saw the introduction of Additional Paternity Leave, giving greater options for leave to partners following the birth or adoption of a child.
Am I Entitled To Paternity Leave and Paternity Pay?
You will only be entitled to paid Paternity if you are working and will be using the time off to help care for a baby or child for which you will be responsible.
If you are intending to take Paternity Leave, you must be either the biological father of the child, the husband or partner of the mother, the adopter or the husband or partner of an adopter. You do not need to be a married couple in order to qualify for Paternity Leave. However, one partner must be giving birth or adopting for the other to take Paternity Leave. The entitlement to Paternity Leave applies equally to those in same sex relationships.
You must also have been employed by the same employer for at least 26 weeks in order to qualify for Paternity Leave. The 26-week period is calculated from the beginning of the 15th week prior to the expected week of childbirth or from the beginning of the week in which you are informed of your match to a child in cases of adoption.
You are entitled to Paternity Leave following every birth or adoption of a child of yours. However, in the case of multiple births, you can only take one period of paternity leave.
If you are self-employed, freelance or are a contract worker employed through an agency, you will not be entitled to any paid Paternity Leave.
How Long Is The Period of Paternity Leave?
As a minimum, the amount of Paternity Leave that can be taken following a birth or adoption is at least two weeks. Some companies offer an enhanced Paternity Leave package, which may extend this time or offer more flexible terms. A company policy may give more benefits than statutory leave. For example, they may offer two weeks of paid leave followed by an optional period of unpaid leave. Whatever the terms offered by a company, Paternity Leave policy cannot be inferior to that offered by the Statutory Paternity Leave period of two weeks or the rate of Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP).
The amount of paternity leave taken can be anything up to two weeks, but the days off must be taken on consecutive days. If you work on a pro-rated basis, any entitlement to Paternity Leave will also be pro-rated.
Since April 2011, there has been the added option of Additional Paternity Leave. The entitlement to Additional Paternity Leave applies to children born or adopted on or after 3rd April 2011 and can be exercised with the consent of the mother. It involves the transfer of all or part of the mother's Maternity Leave to the father. However, any enhanced terms relating to the Maternity Leave will not be afforded to a father on Additional Paternity Leave.
Paternity Leave does not extend to any time off for antenatal appointments prior to the birth. If time off for this reason is requested, it is only to be taken at the company's discretion unless you wish take annual leave to cover the time.
How Much Will I Get Paid When on Paternity Leave?
Where there is an entitlement to Paternity Leave, it will always be paid leave. The rate of pay will be dependent on whether you are taking Paternity Leave under a company policy or taking Statutory Paternity Leave. Generally a company policy arrangement for Paternity Leave will be treated as any other type of leave and you will be paid at your normal rate. For Statutory Paternity Leave, you will be paid at the standard rate set for Statutory Paternity Pay or a rate based on 90% of your average earnings for a week if this is less than Statutory Paternity Pay. Paternity pay will be paid by your employer to you through the normal channels. It is subject to the usual tax and National Insurance deductions.
How Do I Take Paternity Leave?
As an employee wishing to exercise your right to Paternity Leave, you may also be expected to do the following. You should notify your employer of your intention to take Paternity Leave as soon as possible, notifying them of the expected date of childbirth or adoption date, how long you would like to take off and the expected date of your return to work.
You can go on Paternity Leave any day of the week, but the period of leave cannot commence until the baby has been born or until a child is placed with you. The leave also has to have been completed by the 56th day following this date. If you wish to take any time off prior to the birth or after the qualifying period, you will need to use annual leave.
If it is the case that a child is born earlier than expected, you can commence your Paternity Leave earlier than stated if you wish. In the sad event that a baby is stillborn or dies shortly after birth, provided that the pregnancy had reached 24 weeks, Paternity Leave can still be taken provided you qualify for it.
Using Your Paternity Leave
The vast majority of employees that are entitled to Paternity Leave take the full amount of time off to which they are entitled. The amount of time you take off in total may depend on your financial circumstances, but two weeks of paid Paternity Leave will be the minimum you can have. The arrival of a new baby or child is exciting and will be an important time for all concerned. As a new parent, your baby or child will need looking after, your partner will be recovering from the birth and if you have other children, these also need to be cared for.
During the first few days, spend time with the new arrival and get involved with their care. The first few days and weeks are an important time in which to bond with your new baby or child and they are also a good opportunity to learn how to fulfil their needs. The role of supporting your partner is also important when on Paternity Leave.
Ensure they feel supported by you and that they use the time that you are with them to rest if they need to. With a small baby especially, it is important for you to both rest when the baby is sleeping. Housework and domestic chores can wait until you are able to establish a routine. Your health and well-being is the main concern in the early days after becoming a new parent. Take advantage of any help offered by family and friends, especially in terms of shopping and cooking, to help you all adapt to a new way of life.
Welcoming a baby or child into the family is an exciting prospect for anybody. Check your entitlement to Paternity Leave and pay in advance of the event and then be safe in the knowledge that you will be able to enjoy spending at least two weeks with your new family in the early days.