A quick guide to fathers’ parenting leave rights
Some enlightened employers give dads unpaid leave to attend two antenatal appointments; from 2015 this will become a legal right. If your employer won’t give you unpaid leave, you may be able to request to take the time off as holiday, or negotiate to take the time off and make up the hours at another time.
If you are an employee and have been with your employer for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the start of the week when the baby is due, you are entitled to a minimum of two weeks’ ordinary paternity leave. Ordinary statutory paternity pay is paid at £136.78 (2013-14) or 90% of average earnings – whichever is less.
The Government announced in November 2013 that it will look at extending statutory paternity leave from its current 2 weeks ‘once the economy is in a stronger position’; new flexible parental leave arrangements will apply from 2015.
To claim your paternity benefits you need to write to your employer 15 weeks before your baby’s due date. If you are an agency worker or subcontractor, you won’t have the right to ordinary paternity leave – but if you have worked for the employer without a break for the same period as above, and continue to do so until the birth, you will be eligible to paternity pay.
Read more on the Government’s website.
Which? produces downloadable paternity leave template letters.
Additional paternity leave
As an employee you are entitled to additional paternity leave for up to 26 weeks, taken between 20 weeks and one year after your baby is born. You can take this leave only if your child’s mother was entitled to maternity leave and pay, and has now returned to work and stopped claiming any relevant pay, with at least two weeks of unexpired statutory pay period remaining. You’ll receive statutory paternity pay during the 39 weeks of her statutory maternity pay period. After that, your leave will be unpaid.
Read more on the Government’s website.
Flexible parental leave
From 2015 you will be able to take up to 50 weeks’ parental leave to look after your new baby, in its first year.
Under the new system, employed mothers will still be entitled to 52 weeks of maternity leave, but will now be able to opt to end the maternity leave after two weeks, and transfer onto flexible parental leave – which can be taken by either parent.
You’ll be able to take the leave in turns or together, provided you take no more than 52 weeks combined in total.
For example, she could take the first eight months, and you take the remaining four months; or she could return to work for a period in the middle of the year and you take care of the child at that time; or you could choose to both stay at home together with the child, for up to 6 months.
Mothers will have to take at least two weeks (or four weeks if they are manual workers) before they can return to work, to make sure they have appropriate time to recover from the birth. They will be able to opt into the flexible parental leave system at any point after the initial two-week post-birth recovery period.
The details of this new system are not yet fixed; the Government will consult on them during 2014, but it has already confirmed that parents will be required to provide a self-certified notice of their leave entitlement to their employers, giving a minimum of eight weeks’ notice of intention to take flexible parental leave.
There will be a new statutory payment for parents on flexible parental leave, with the same qualifying requirements that currently apply to statutory maternity and paternity pay. It will be left to each parent and their employer to agree between themselves the pattern of leave.
Lobbying for improved parenting leave
The Fatherhood Institute lobbies hard for a parenting leave system that gives fathers and mothers more choice over how to share the earning and caring. Please stay in touch with and donate to our campaign for A Great Dad for Every Child.
Tags: For employers, For fathers, New fathers, Parental leave, Paternity leave, Work-life balance