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The Prime Minister and Paternity Leave

The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, became a father again this week and it was announced that he planned to take paternity leave but would not be doing so at the moment. This development may find employers wondering what rights their employees have when it comes to taking paternity leave – is it just Prime Ministers that can take paternity leave some time after their child is born?

Below we take a look at five fast facts that will help employers to manage statutory paternity leave in their organisation.

1. Contracts of employment are important

Some employers choose to give their employees better rights in their employment contracts when it comes to paternity leave and/or paternity pay so it’s always important to check your contracts of employment to see if you are one of these employers. In these fast facts we look at statutory rights only, but your Employment Law Specialist will be happy to help you if you have any questions regarding enhanced contractual rights in your organisation.

2. There are eligibility requirements that employees need to meet

Employees can take statutory paternity leave in birth, adoption and surrogacy situations if the necessary eligibility requirements are met.

In birth situations, employees must:

  • Be taking the leave to care for a newborn child or to support the child’s mother
  • Be the biological father of the child or the mother’s spouse, civil partner or partner
  • Have or expect to have the main responsibility for the upbringing of the child (apart from any responsibility of the mother) if the individual is not the father of the child
  • Have at least 26 weeks continuous employment with you ending with the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth

3. Statutory paternity leave is limited

The amount of paternity leave that can be taken is two weeks. It can be taken as a two week block or as a one week block if your employee does not want to take the full amount. It cannot be taken as single days nor can it be taken as two separate weeks.

4. There are restrictions on the timing of taking statutory paternity leave

In birth situations, employees can choose to start their leave:

  • On the date of the child’s birth (whether this is earlier or later than expected)
  • From a chosen number of days or weeks after the date of the child’s birth as notified to you (whether this is earlier or later than expected),
  • From a chosen date falling after the date of the child’s birth

Your employee will usually be required to inform you of their intention to take paternity leave by the end of the fifteenth week before the baby is expected.

Statutory paternity leave must be completed within 56 days of the actual date of birth of the child, or if the child is born early, within the period from the actual date of birth up to 56 days after the expected week of birth.

5. Employees may be entitled to statutory paternity pay

To be entitled to statutory paternity pay, in addition to meeting the qualifying requirements for statutory paternity leave, employees must be in continuous employment up to the week in which the child is born and have normal weekly earnings for the eight weeks ending with the 15th week before the expected week of birth that are not less than the lower earnings limit for the payment of National Insurance contributions.

Statutory paternity pay is currently £151.20 per week (or 90% of normal weekly earnings if this is lower).

Your employee will have to give you a completed self-certificate as evidence of their entitlement to statutory paternity pay. You can also request a completed self-certificate as evidence of entitlement to paternity leave.  To support you in managing paternity leave, your Employment Law Specialist can provide you with a template self-certificate on request.

Whilst we have focussed on statutory paternity leave and pay in birth situations in this Legal Update, it’s important to bear in mind that employees can also be entitled to these in adoption and surrogacy situations. If you would like information on paternity leave and pay in these circumstances, please contact Kingfisher Professional Services Ltd.

If you require advice on paternity leave or any aspect of employment law, please do not hesitate to contact us as we are happy to help.