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Paternity Rights

What is ordinary paternity leave?

The right to take either one or two consecutive weeks’ leave, within 56 days of the child’s birth, expected week of childbirth or adoption with statutory paternity pay.

What is additional paternity leave?

If a child’s mother or co-adopter returns to work before the end of their statutory maternity or adoption leave, the employee may be entitled to take up to 26 weeks additional unpaid paternity leave.

This leave must be taken in a period beginning 20 weeks after the child’s birth or adoption and ending 12 months afterwards.

Additional paternity leave will cease to apply for children born or adopted on or after 5 April 2015 and will be replaced by Shared Parental Leave.

Who is eligible for paternity leave?

An employee is eligible for ordinary paternity leave if they have, or expect to have, responsibility for a baby’s upbringing and are either or both the biological father of the child and the mother’s husband or partner.

The employee must have worked continuously for the same employer for 26 weeks ending with the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth, from the 15th week before the baby is due up to the date of birth and be taking the time off either to support the mother, or to care for the child.

Employees seeking to take additional paternity leave must remain employed by the employer until the week before the start of their additional paternity leave.

What are the adoption rights?

An employee is entitled to be absent from work for the purpose of caring for a child, or supporting the child’s adopter, if they (1) have been continuously employed for a period of at least 26 weeks ending with the week that notice of the adoption is received, are (2) either married to or the partner of the adopter, (3) have (or expects to have) the main responsibility for the upbringing of the child in addition to the adopter and (4) have complied with the notice requirements.

The entitlement to leave is not affected by the placement for adoption of more than one child as part of the same arrangement. If there is a joint adoption, then the adopter not taking adoption leave will be entitled to paternity leave, whereas the spouse or partner of a single adopter will also be entitled to Ordinary and Additional paternity leave.

What notice does an employee give?

An employee must inform his employer that he intends to take ordinary paternity leave either 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 practical.

Adopting employees must give notice of (1) the date on which the adopter received notice of adoption, (2) the date on which the adoption is expected to take place, (3) the duration and (4) when leave is to begin. Notice must be given no more than 7 days after notice of adoption is given, or as soon as is reasonably practical after that.

An employer may require an employee to give a declaration to the effect that the absence from work is one specified by the paternity leave regulations and that they satisfy the conditions of entitlement (for example by completing Revenue form SC3).

What notice is required for additional paternity leave?

An employee taking additional paternity leave must give notice in writing at least 8 weeks before that leave is to start of the child’s birth (or expected week of childbirth) and when leave is to start and finish. In the case of adoption, the requirement is to give the date of the notice of adoption and when the adoption is to take place, or has taken place. A signed Employee Declaration must also be given confirming responsibility for the child in question.

Is an employee entitled to statutory paternity pay?

An employee must give his employer a self-certificate (Revenue form SC3) as evidence of entitlement at least 28 days before SPP is to begin. The rates of statutory pay vary.

What is the position on return to work?

Throughout the paternity leave period the contract of employment continues in place and the employee continues to accrue annual leave and continuous service for unfair dismissal and redundancy purposes.

Employees returning to work after a single period of paternity leave, or a period of paternity leave followed by up to 4 weeks’ parental leave, are entitled to return to the same job.

An employee taking more than 4 weeks’ parental leave, or additional parental or adoption leave, is entitled to return from leave to the same job unless this is not reasonably practicable. If so, the employer must permit the employee to return to another job that is suitable and appropriate.

What is the protection?

Employees are protected against being subjected to a detriment resulting from any act (or deliberate failure to act) by the employer because an employee has taken or seeks to take paternity leave.

It is also unlawful for an employer to dismiss an employee because an employee has taken or seeks to take paternity leave.

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