Who is entitled to paternity leave?
- Fathers in married couple
- Partner in co-habiting couples where one person in the couple is giving birth to, or adopting the child (a partner is defined as someone of either the same sex or different sex who lives with the child and the child’s mother, in an enduring family relationship).
You are entitled to take either one week or two consecutive weeks’ paternity leave. The period in which you must take your leave will begin on the day the child is born and finish 56 days after the day the child is born.
Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP) can be quite complicated so you may need to seek further advice regarding your entitlements. However, you are entitled to paid paternity leave if:
- You are an employee and have been continuously employed by your current employer for 26 weeks or more by the end of the qualifying week (the end of the 15thweek before the due date)
- You have been earning at or above the Lower Earning Limit (£77) before tax on the average over 8 weeks up to the end of the qualifying week.
If your child is born early then you qualify for SPP if you would have been working for your current employer for at least 26 weeks by the qualifying week, even if the child is born before the qualifying week.
When can SPP start?
You don’t have to take your leave and pay as soon as the child is born, but you do have to take it within a time period which starts on the day the child is born and end 56 days after that date.
How much is SPP?
You will be paid either £100 per week or 90% of your average weekly earnings if you earn less than £100 per week. Your average weekly earnings are calculated using your gross pay, which includes the pay that forms part of your NI contributions.
If you intend to take paternity leave you have to give your employer notice that specifies:
- The week your child is due to be born in
- The length of leave that you intend to take – either one week or two consecutive weeks
- The date that you have chosen your leave to begin on
You must give your employer this notice in, or before, the qualifying week (the 15thweek before the due date). In cases where this is not possible, or reasonably practicable, for example the child is born prematurely or the pregnancy is discovered very late, then notice must be given as soon as is reasonably practicable.
Can I change the date my paternity leave starts?
Once you have given your employer notice of the date you intend your leave to start on, you are entitled to vary this date but you have to give notice of the new date. If the child is not born on or before that date, you can vary your leave date to begin:
- With a later pre-determined date
- On a specified number of days after the child is born
- On the day the child is born
What happens to my job while I’m on leave?
If you return to work and have taken no other leave, or you have taken paternity leave, followed by annual leave or other statutory leave, then you are entitled to benefit from the same terms and conditions as if you had not been away – except for those terms and conditions relating to remuneration (ie wages).
Am I entitled to return to the same job?
You are entitled to return to the same job and benefit from the same conditions as if you’d never been on leave, (unless a redundancy situation has arisen). You are entitled to benefit from any improvements to the rate of pay or other terms and conditions.
My employer says that paternity leave doesn’t apply as I’m not an employee. Is this true?
Some working people will not get the same paternity leave and pay right as employees, without breaking the law. Some employers do try and get round their obligations by treating their staff as self-employed when legally they are employees. If your employer tells you that you are a worker rather than an employee, because for example, you work from home, obtained work through an agency or are a casual worker, then you must seek legal advice and clarification.
Are there any circumstances under which I am not able to claim SPP?
- If you are sick when your paternity leave period is due to begin you cannot claim both Statutory Sick Pay and SPP.
- If you are taken into legal custody or sentenced to prison (and the sentence is not suspended), your employer can suspend your SPP payments immediately.
Can my employer dismiss me if they think I’m going to take paternity leave or if I’ve asked to take paternity leave?
It is against the law for your employer to dismiss you or penalise you in any way for asking to take paternity leave, or seeking Statutory Paternity Pay. This is the case regardless of how long you have worked for your employer.
Am I entitled to more paternity leave if it is a multiple birth or more than one child is being adopted at the same time?
The number of babies born at the same birth does not affect the amount of leave you are entitled to take. So whether your partner gives birth to one baby or has a multiple birth, your leave entitlement remains the same. The same applies to adoption. The amount of leave you are entitled to is not affected by the number of children that are being placed with your partner and you as part of the same placement.