Paternity Rights

As a prospective new father, you are probably just as anxious and excited about your new arrival as your partner. You want to be there for her and for your baby. So what are your rights?

In order to be entitled to take ordinary paternity leave (“OPL”), you must be an employee and fulfil the following conditions:

  • Have or expect to have responsibility for the child’s upbringing;
  • Be the biological father of the child or the mother’s husband or partner living with the mother and child;
  • Have worked continuously for your employer for 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the baby is due;
  • Have given written notice to your employer when the mother is about 25 weeks’ pregnant that you want to take paternity leave and how long you want to take; and
  • Still be employed by your employer on the day the child is born

If you have fulfilled all of the above conditions, then you can take one whole week or two continuous weeks of OPL. OPL has to be taken in whole weeks and not in days. OPL can be taken at any time within 56 days of the birth of your child. If you have twins, you still only get one period of OPL.

You also now have the right to take Additional Paternity Leave. Please see our page on Additional Paternity Leave.

During your OPL, you are entitled to exactly the same contractual benefits as you would normally receive, except for your salary. Provided you fulfil all of the conditions above, you will be entitled to receive Statutory Paternity Pay (“SPP”) instead. You also have the right to return to exactly the same job that you were employed to do immediately before taking OPL.

You will get SPP if you have average earnings at least equal to the NICs Lower Earnings Limit, which is £111 a week or £481 a month for 2014-15. You should give your employer 28 days’ notice of when you want their SPP to start. The current rate if SPP is the lower of

  • £138.18 – from 6 April 2014 or;
  • 90 per cent of their average weekly earnings

The same conditions apply if you are adopting a child, as relevant.

The Government is also creating a new statutory payment for parents on flexible parental leave, with the same qualifying requirements that currently apply to statutory maternity and paternity pay. The new system will not be restricting the flexibility of flexible parental leave but will leave it to each parent and their employer to agree between themselves the pattern of leave. Please see details of flexible parental leave on our page on additional paternity rights.

In the same way as mothers are protected from detrimental treatment and dismissal as a result of taking paternity leave, fathers are also protected and anyone who feels that they have been unfairly treated should obtain legal advice.

Contact us today for free, impartial advice: 020 8979 6453