Working parents

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Paternity leave

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Employees, regardless of hours of work, are entitled to paternity leave if they have, or expect to have, responsibility for their baby's upbringing and are either or both the biological father of the baby and or the mother's husband or partner. Same sex partners will be included. In addition, they must have worked continuously for the same employer for 26 weeks ending with the 15th week before the baby is due and from the 15th week before the baby is due up to the date of birth. Paternity leave will be granted if the time is being taken off either to support the mother or to care for the new baby.

Eligible employees can choose to take either one week or two consecutive weeks' paternity leave. It cannot be taken as odd days or as two separate weeks. Employees can take only one period of leave even if more than one baby is born as a result of the same pregnancy.


When leave starts

Leave cannot start until the baby's birth. Leave can start on the date of the baby's birth (whether this is earlier or later than expected); on a date falling after the birthdate, which is notified to the employer, or on a chosen date as notified to the employer which falls after the first day of the expected week of childbirth.

To qualify for paternity leave an employee must tell their employer that they intend to take paternity leave by the end of the 15th week before the week the baby is due or, if this is not possible, as soon as is reasonably practicable.

In addition to the qualifications for paternity leave to qualify for Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP) an employee must have average weekly earnings at or above the lower earnings limit for national insurance at the end of his qualifying week (ending with the 15th week before the baby is due).

To qualify for SPP an employee must tell his employer that he wants to get SPP at least 28 days beforehand. Where an employee is entitled to both pay and leave, the notice given for leave by the 15th week before the week the baby is due can count for pay as well. The employee must tell his employer the expected week of the baby's birth, whether he wishes to take one or two weeks' leave and when he wants to start his leave. He must also make a signed declaration that he is taking leave either to care for his child or to support the mother or both; has or expects to have responsibility for the upbringing of the child and is the father of the child and/or the partner or husband of the mother.

The rate of SPP is the same as the standard rate of statutory maternity pay (£140.98 per week from 6 April 2017 or 90 per cent of average weekly earnings whichever is lower).

A contract of employment continues throughout paternity leave, unless either the employer or the employee expressly ends it or it expires. While on paternity leave, employees are entitled to benefit from all those normal terms and conditions of employment, except from terms relating to wages or salary (unless their contract of employment provides otherwise), which would have applied were they not on paternity leave. An employee would continue to accrue annual leave while on paternity leave.

A period of paternity leave counts towards a period of continuous employment for the purposes of statutory employment rights, including calculating a redundancy payment. Pension contributions will be dealt with in the same way as if the employee was at work.

At the end of paternity leave an employee is guaranteed the right to return to the same job as before on the same terms and conditions of employment as if they had not been absent, unless a redundancy situation has arisen. They are also entitled to benefits from any general improvements to the rate of pay or other terms and conditions introduced while they were away.

An employee is protected against being subjected to detriment by any act or deliberate failure to act by their employer because they took paternity leave or sought to take paternity leave.


Hospital doctors

For hospital doctors employed under national terms and conditions of service or other doctors who have contracts of employment which make reference to national terms and conditions of service, Temporary Appendix VI(vi) of the Terms and Conditions of Service NHS Medical and Dental Staff (England) 2002; Schedule 13 of the Terms and Conditions for NHS Doctors and Dentists in Training (England) 2016; Schedule 29 for consultants employed under the new Consultant Terms and Conditions of Service; Schedule 26 of the Terms and Conditions of Service – Specialty Doctor (England) April 2008 and Schedule 27 of the Terms and Conditions – Associate Specialist (England) April 2008 'Balancing Work and Personal Life', contain guidance on paternity leave. 

Under this guidance there is an entitlement to two weeks' paternity leave at full pay (less any statutory paternity pay receivable) per birth. To be eligible the doctor should have 12 months' NHS service for one or more NHS employers at the beginning of the week in which the baby is due, but those doctors with less service will be entitled to unpaid leave subject to their local agreement.

Local agreements will specify the period during which leave can be taken and whether it must be taken in a continuous block or may be split up over a specific period.

An employee must give his employer a completed form SC3 Becoming a parent at least 28 days before they want to start. Reasonable paid time off to attend antenatal classes will be given. This guidance replaces Section 7 of the General Whitley Council Conditions of Service. For current rates please read the supplement.

The Additional Paternity Leave Regulations 2010, which came into force on 6 April 2010, introduced a new statutory entitlement for employees.

Those who fulfil the criteria will be entitled to up to a maximum of 26 weeks additional paternity leave, provided the mother has returned to work. This can be taken between 20 weeks and one year after the birth or placement for adoption. It can only be taken in multiples of complete weeks and as one continuous period. The minimum period of paternity leave which may be taken is two consecutive weeks.

Not less than eight weeks before the start date of the period of leave the employee applying for additional paternity leave must give their employer:

  • a written leave notice including the expected week of birth; the child's date of birth and the start and end date of the period of leave, and
  • an employee written and signed declaration confirming that the purpose of the period of leave will be to care for the child and that the employee satisfies the eligibility conditions, and
  • a written mother declaration stating the mother's name and address; the date the mother intends to return to work; her national insurance number; that the employee satisfied the eligibility conditions; that the employee is to the mother's knowledge the only person exercising the entitlement to additional paternity leave in respect of the child, and that the mother consents to the employer processing such of the mother's information as is contained in the declaration


Continuous employment

In addition to the eligibility criteria for ordinary paternity leave the employee must have been continuously employed with the employer for a period of 26 weeks ending with the week immediately preceding the 14th week before the expected week of child birth, which is known as the relevant week. They must also remain continuously employed with the employer until the week before the first week of the additional paternity leave (which runs Sunday to Saturday). The employee will still qualify if the reason they do not have sufficient continuous service is due to the date of birth being earlier than the relevant week and if they had been continuously employed for such a period if their employment had continued until the relevant week. The employee must be the child's father, or married to or the partner or civil partner of the mother but not the child's father, and has or expects to have the main responsibility (apart from any responsibility of the mother) for the upbringing of the child.

The mother must also be entitled, by reference of becoming pregnant, to one or more of the following:

  • statutory maternity leave;
  • statutory maternity pay or maternity allowance, or
  • statutory adoption leave or pay and has, or is treated as having, returned to work, ceased claiming any relevant payment with at least two weeks of unexpired statutory pay period remaining, and has signed the mother declaration


Additional statutory paternity pay

There may be an entitlement to additional statutory paternity pay during the mother's SMP, MA or adoption pay period if the employee:

  • takes additional paternity leave
  • is not working for the purposes of caring for the child during the mother's SMP, MA or statutory adoption pay period

The employee must be an employed earner.

If you apply for, but do not quality for, additional statutory paternity pay your employer must provide you with a form ASPP1 explaining the reasons why.

Additional statutory paternity pay is only payable to you during the period of your partner's 39 week SMP, MA or statutory adoption pay period. It is paid at the same rate payable during the ordinary paternity leave period.


Unpaid additional paternity leave

Employees will have the right to take unpaid additional statutory paternity leave if they meet the criteria for leave but not for pay.