Paternity Leave

Are you entitled to paid statutory paternity leave?

To qualify for paternity pay and leave you must be an ‘employee’. 

You can take statutory paternity leave if you:

  • are an employee, with a contract of employment
  • are the biological father of the child or you are the mother’s husband or partner (including same-sex relationships); or you are the child’s adopter or the partner of the adopter
  • have been with your employer for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the start of the week when the baby’s due; or by the end of the week in which you are notified of being matched with your child
  • will be fully involved in the child’s upbringing and are taking the time off to support the mother or care for the baby

To qualify for pay you must also earn at least the lower earnings limit (LEL) for National Insurance contributions.

If you earn less than the LEL, (currently £90 a week), you have the right to unpaid paternity leave if you meet the other conditions, and could get Income Support while on paternity leave.

If you are not an employee, but are an agency worker, office holder or subcontractor, you will not normally have the right to paternity leave, but may be eligible for pay if you meet the other qualifying criteria.

How much paternity leave can you take?

As long as you meet certain conditions you can take either one or two weeks. You can’t take odd days off and if you take two weeks they must be taken together.

You can choose to start the leave:

  • on the day the baby is born
  • a number of days or weeks after the baby is born
  • from a specific date after the first day of the week in which the baby is expected to be born

Your leave can start on any day of the week (but not before the baby is born), but has to finish within 56 days of the baby being born or, if the baby is born before the week it was due, within 56 days of the first day of that week.

If your partner has a multiple birth, you are only allowed one period of paternity leave.

What happens if you lose your baby?

Provided you meet all the other conditions, you can still take paternity leave if the child is stillborn after 24 weeks of pregnancy or is born alive at any point of the pregnancy.

How much paternity pay you can get

If your average weekly earnings are £90 or more (before tax), Statutory Paternity Pay is paid for one or two consecutive weeks at £117.18 (£123.06 from 5 April 2009) or 90 per cent of your average weekly earnings if this is less.

Time off for antenatal appointments

Fathers do not have a legal right to time off to accompany their partners to antenatal appointments as the right to paid time off only applies to pregnant employees. However, many companies recognise how important a time this is and let their employees either take paid time off or make up the time later.

What to do if you have problems

If you are being denied your rights, talk to your employer first of all. If you have an employee representative (for example, a trade union official), they may be able to help.

If this doesn’t work, you may need to make a complaint using your employer’s internal grievance procedure.

If you are still unhappy, you can make a complaint to an Employment Tribunal.

For more information: Visit: Direct Gov web-site

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