When it comes to making work arrangements around childbirth, the father is often forgotten. It is a unique and emotional time, and a father has a right to ensure he is available to share in some irreplaceable experiences with a newborn child, as well as being able to provide invaluable support for the mother. Some men can be reluctant to approach employers relating to paternity rights because of the pressures of work, a fear of bullying or discrimination or due to a perception that paternal rights are somehow less important.

Here we have put together a short summary of paternity rights so that fathers-to-be can make plans and arrangements in preparation for such an exciting and emotional period.

Paternity leave

An employee who fits the eligibility criteria is entitled to ordinary paternity leave (OPL), this is:

  • One whole week or two consecutive weeks of leave to be taken within 56 days of the birth of the baby.
  • Either period must be taken as a whole, continuous period of leave, ie. either a whole week together, or two consecutive weeks together.
  • A week is equal to a normal working week, so if you normally only work three days a week, one week of your paternity leave is also three days.
  • An employee is eligible for this if they have served a minimum of 26 weeks with their current employer, and must inform the employer of the intention to take this leave no less than 15 weeks before the baby’s due date. They must also inform the employer whether they intend to take one or two weeks, and the employer can request that all of this is in writing.
  • In terms of the employee’s relationship to the mother and baby, an employee is entitled to OPL if they are the father of the child, but also if they are the spouse, civil partner or partner of the mother.
  • Under OPL, an employee is entitled to all of their normal contractual entitlements, except for their normal salary remuneration.

Prior to 2015, a father could apply for additional paternity leave at the discretion of the employer. But in 2015 this was replaced by Shared Paternity Leave. This means that:

  • A mother can transfer up to 50 weeks of their maternity leave to their partner.
  • They can also transfer up to 37 weeks of statutory maternity pay.

Paternity Pay

If the employee is eligible for OSP, they are therefore entitled to ordinary statutory paternity pay. This means they can receive one or two weeks of pay at £156.66 per week, or 90% of their normal, average weekly wage, whichever is lower.

Other paternity rights

  • A father has the right to return to the same job that they held prior to the period of paternity leave. This is more of a consideration where shared paternity leave has been taken and the father takes a longer period off work.
  • If a redundancy situation develops while an employee is on paternity leave, the father must be offered an alternative vacancy when they return to work, and the employment terms and conditions of that position must not be substantially less favourable than their original position.
  • A father is protected from detrimental treatment – such as dismissal and/or discrimination – connected with their period of OSL or shared paternity leave.
  • Anyone on paternity leave can still accrue annual leave as normal.
  • In addition to statutory paternity leave, an eligible employee can be granted leave to accompany a partner on two antenatal appointments.

Professional legal advice on paternity rights

If you and your partner are expecting a baby or adopting a child, and you are unsure of your paternity rights, you can contact our experts in employment for individuals today. We can offer you expert maternity and paternity rights advice and support you and your partner to ensure you have peace of mind and are fully informed on your rights and responsibilities prior to this very exciting time, so get in touch today.

Share this...