GP practices

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20. Paternity leave

To be eligible for paternity leave and pay, an individual must be an employee of the practice. An employee is eligible for paternity leave and pay provided that they:

  • have or expect to have responsibility for the child’s upbringing
  • are the biological father of the child or the mother’s husband or partner or cohabiting same-sex partner of the child’s mother; and
  • have worked continuously for their employer for 26 weeks ending with the 15th week before the baby is due or the end of the week in which the child’s adopter is notified of being matched with the child.

Paternity leave is available to both birth and adoptive parents.

In the case of an adopted child, paternity leave is available to:

  • an employee who is married to, or the civil partner of, the child’s adopter; or
  • the cohabiting partner of the child’s adopter (including same-sex partners).

Where a couple adopt a child jointly, assuming they are eligible, one may take adoption leave and the other may take paternity leave. They are entitled to choose for themselves which parent takes which type of leave.

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  • Notification requirements

    Employees are required to provide notification of their intention to take paternity leave. Notification must be given as at the 15th week before the expected week of confinement or within seven days of matching. Practices are entitled to ask employees who have requested a period of paternity leave to sign a self-certification form declaring that they meet the eligibility criteria.

    The employee must also tell his employer when his baby was actually born or placed for adoption as soon as is reasonably practicable after the event.

    If the employee wishes to change the timing of his paternity leave after having given notice to the employer, he may do so provided that he gives at least 28 days’ notice of the revised start date.

  • Length of paternity leave

    An employee may choose to take either one week or two consecutive weeks paternity leave. The employee cannot choose to take odd days or two separate non-consecutive weeks.

    The employee must complete their paternity leave within 56 days of the actual date of birth of the child.

    If the child is born early, leave must be taken within the period from the actual date of birth up to 56 days after the first day of the week in which the birth was expected. If the child is born late, the eight-week period runs from the date of the actual birth.

    Only one period of paternity leave is available at any one time even if the pregnancy results in a multiple birth or the adoption placement is for more than one child. An employee cannot start a period of paternity leave before the child is born.

    In the case of a child adopted within the UK, the employee must take his paternity leave within the eight-week period from when the child is placed for adoption.

  • SPP (statutory paternity pay)

    SPP is treated as earnings for tax and NI purposes. The standard rate is revised each April. If the employee’s average weekly earnings are lower than the standard rate then they receive 90% of their earnings.

    View the current rates

  • Rights during paternity leave

    When an employee is on paternity leave, all terms and conditions of employment are maintained with the exception of his pay. In most cases, the employee will be eligible for SPP in place of his normal wages or salary.

    The employee continues to be bound by any obligations arising under the terms of his contract during paternity leave.

  • Contractual paternity pay

    A practice may choose to pay an employee a more beneficial rate of paternity pay if they so wish, for example maintain his contractual rate of pay. This is a matter for the practice to consider.

  • Returning to work

    An employee who has taken a period of paternity leave is entitled to return to work in the same job as before or if the leave has been longer than 26 weeks a job with similar rights and seniority on terms and conditions no less favourable than the terms that would have applied had he not been absent.

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