Paternity Rights and Parental Leave
Most people are familiar with the idea of maternity leave and
maternity pay, but when it comes to the employment rights of
fathers, the law is less widely known and understood.
If you are a father-to-be or will share the responsibility with
a partner for bringing up a child, you may have the right to
Statutory Paternity Leave and Pay. This includes adoptive
Qualifying for Statutory Paternity Leave and Pay
To qualify you will have worked continuously for your employer
for 26 weeks ending with the 15th week before the baby is due, or
the end of the week in which the child's adopter is notified of
being matched with the child.
Paternity leave is available to employees who:
- have or expect to have responsibility for the child's
- are the biological father of the child or the mother's husband
or partner; and
- have worked continuously for their employer for 26 weeks ending
with the 15th week before the baby is due or the end of the week in
which the child's adopter is notified of being matched with the
Those who are eligible can choose to take either one week or two
consecutive weeks' paid paternity leave (not odd days).
If you are an employee and have completed one year's service
with an employer, you are entitled to 13 weeks' unpaid parental
leave for each child born or adopted.
The leave can start once the child is born or placed for
adoption, or as soon as the you have completed a year's service,
whichever is later. Employees can take it at any time up to the
child's fifth birthday (or until five years after placement in the
case of adoption). If the child has disabilities, they can take 18
weeks up to the child's 18th birthday.
Requesting Parental Leave
You must give your employer twenty-one days' notice of the start
date of the parental leave, and your employer may ask for this to
be in writing. As long as you qualify for parental leave and give
your employer the correct notice, you should be able to take
parental leave at any time.
To take parental leave straight after the birth or adoption of a
child, an you should give notice twenty-one days before the
beginning of the expected week of childbirth or placement. In cases
where this may not be possible you should give notice to your
employer as soon as possible.
Examples of where it would not be possible to give twenty-one
days' notice include where a child is born prematurely or where
fewer than twenty-one days' notice is given that a child is to be
placed with you for adoption.
What about employment status whilst on Parental Leave?
Employees remain employed while on parental leave. That means
that some terms of your contract, such as contractual notice and
redundancy terms, still apply. At the end of parental leave, you
will have the right to return to the same job as before or, if that
is not practicable, a similar job with the same or better status
and terms and conditions.
If your parental leave is for a period of four weeks or fewer,
you will be entitled to go back to the same job.
Do you need advice on your rights?
If your employer is not allowing you to take paternity leave or
parental leave and you think you should be entitled to it, you may
wish to take legal advice. Contact our team on freephone
0800 422 0241 or complete our contact form and we will get
back to you.