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Employment Law > Paternity Leave and Employment Rights

Paternity Leave and Employment Rights

If your wife or partner is having a baby, then as an employee you have certain rights, such as being able to take time off. You will also be protected against unfair treatment, discrimination or dismissal.

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As an employee whose partner is having a baby, you have certain legal rights that your employers must respect. There are also legal protections that apply to both you and your partner (and also individuals) if you are adopting a child. This includes being able to take time off work, either as paternity leave, or statutory adoption leave.


The legal protections that you have if you are on paternity leave or statutory adoption leave cover your right to pay rises, to build up or accrue your holiday entitlements and to return to your job after your leave.


Most employers are aware that they have certain obligations towards their staff if they are planning to take paternity leave or statutory adoption leave. However, if you feel your employer is trying to deprive you of your entitlement to paid leave, or if you feel you are being unfairly discriminated against because you have asked to take leave, then our employment solicitors may be able to help.


On this page of our site, we’ve put together a brief guide to the current situation regarding the rights of fathers to take time off work, their entitlements to leave and pay. If you’d like some further legal advice from an expert Employment Law Solicitor, you can call our team today on 0151 239 1000.


What is paternity leave?


If your partner is having a baby, then in most situations, you are eligible to take 1 or 2 weeks paid Ordinary Paternity Leave. If your partner returns to work shortly after having the child, then you could take up to a further 26 weeks paid Additional Paternity Leave to help look after your child.


You should be aware that there are more restrictions on when you can take your Ordinary Paternity Leave than there are for maternity leave. For example, Ordinary Paternity Leave cannot be taken before your partner has given birth.


After you have used up your Ordinary Paternity Leave, you can take between 2 and 26 weeks of Additional Paternity Leave. The exact amount of this leave you can take will depend upon how much unused maternity leave your partner has.


Additional Paternity Leave can start up to 20 weeks after your partner gives birth and it must finish by the child’s first birthday.


During your paternity leave, your employment rights will be protected (apart from your salary, as you will receive statutory paternity pay during your leave). After your paternity leave has ended, you will be entitled to return to the same job, with the same terms and conditions in your contract.


What pay will I receive whilst on paternity leave?


As with maternity leave, whilst you are on paternity leave, you will receive at least the statutory minimum weekly pay from your employer. This minimum pay, which can be paid during Ordinary Paternity Leave and Additional Paternity Leave, will either be £138.18 per week, or 90% of your average earnings, whichever of these two figures is lower.


If you take Additional Paternity Leave after your partner has already used up all of her paid maternity leave, under the current regulations, you will not be paid during your leave. You should also be aware that the figures mentioned above are the statutory minimums and it may be the case that your employer operates a more generous paternity pay scheme than the minimum required by law.


How do I qualify for Statutory Paternity Pay?


It is important to be aware that whilst most individuals who apply will be eligible to receive Statutory Paternity Pay from their employer, you will not qualify unless you can satisfy several conditions. To qualify for paid Ordinary Paternity Leave:


  • You must be the child’s father or the husband or partner of the child’s mother.

  • You must have earnings of at least £111 a week.

  • You must be an employee and you must have worked continuously for 26 weeks up to and including the 15th week before the baby’s due date.

  • You must also have given the correct amount of notice, stating when the baby is due, when you want your leave to start and whether you are taking 1 or 2 weeks Ordinary Paternity Leave.

To qualify for Additional Paternity Leave and Pay, in addition to the conditions above:


  • The child’s mother must have qualified for Statutory Maternity Leave or Pay or the Maternity Allowance.

  • The mother must have returned to work and no longer be received Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance.

  • You must have confirmed that your partner has at least 2 weeks of paid maternity leave left unused.

Once you have supplied this information to your employer, they must inform you within 28 days whether or not you have qualified for Paternity Pay. If you haven’t they must explain the reasons why.


What are my employment rights whilst on paternity leave?


Whilst you are on paternity leave, your employment rights are protected by law. These include the rights not to be subject to unfair treatment, discrimination or to dismissal.


Most employers will be keen to support staff members who decide to take paternity leave to help care for their children. However our experiences as Employment Law Solicitors have shown us that some employers will seek to get around the statutory protections, discriminating against employees who are on, or who have requested, paternity leave.


Some of the issues faced by individuals on paternity leave include, amongst others; employers seeking to change the terms and conditions in their contracts of employment, or to make it difficult to return to work. We have also heard of situations where employees on paternity leave have been passed over for pay rises or promotions.


What can I do about employment issues regarding paternity leave?


Here at Canter Levin & Berg Solicitors, our Employment Law Solicitors are here to help you if you feel you have been discriminated against by your employer due to a request for paternity leave, or whilst you have been on paternity leave.


Our solicitors will be able to provide you with advice and we will also be able to explain the options you have open to you to raise the issue of discrimination with your employer and how you can go about resolving the issue. We can also help if you decide to take your employer to an Employment Tribunal or if you choose to use mediation or another form of dispute resolution.


For more information on the whole range of legal services we can offer to help when it comes to dealing with discrimination in the workplace, call our team now on 0151 239 1000 or submit your enquiry here on our website and one of our Employment Solicitors will call you back.