When a new baby arrives, it’s an emotional time -- and can be a stressful one too. How to get the most out of your paternity entitlements, and make sure you use it to your advantage, is essential. Here, we provide a breakdown of your minimum statutory entitlements.
A recent study found that 39% of fathers in the retail industry had flexible time available to them but did not take advantage of it. The study from the Equality and Human Rights Commission also revealed that 45% of men fail to take two weeks’ paternity leave after the birth of their child.
Don’t let a lack of knowledge prevent you from enjoying and supporting your recently expanded family.
Qualifying for paternity leave
In order to qualify, you need to:
- Have been with the company for at least 26 weeks; and
- Have requested paternity leave at least 15 weeks before the expected date of the birth
And you must be:
- The biological father of the child; or
- The mother’s husband or partner, which includes same-sex relationships; or
- The child’s adopted father or the partner of the adopter
You can take the leave:
- On the day the child is born; or
- A specified number of days or weeks after the birth the child, regardless of whether this is before or after the expected birth date; or
- A specific date after the first day of the week in which the baby is expected to be born
Duration of paid leave
Fathers can receive two weeks of paid paternity leave. It’s important to note that you cannot take the leave before the baby is born, and if you take two weeks off, they need to be consecutive. Also note, that in the case of twins, you are still allowed only one period of paternity leave.
Your paternity leave can start on any day of the week on or following the child's birth but must be completed:
- Within 56 days of the child's date of birth, or
- (If your child is born early) within 56 days of the first day of the week your child was born
In case of stillborn
You can still take paternity leave if your child is stillborn, and the pregnancy has exceeded 24 weeks. The same applies if your child is born alive at any point and doesn't survive.
The current statutory rate for paternity leave is £123.06 per week or 90% of your weekly salary.
Fathers can take unpaid leave within the parental leave package, which entitles them to up to 12 weeks' unpaid leave during the first five years of their child's life.
If you are thinking about taking paternity leave but you’re still unsure what’s on offer or what would work best in your situation, speak to your human resources department for help.
Check company policy
We have outlined here the minimum you are entitled to by law. It may well be the case that your employer offers improved paternity benefits as part of its contractual package, so it’s always worth asking your boss or a HR representative for that information.
And make sure you’re given clear explanations of exactly what you can and can’t do. Sometimes an employer may be quite flexible in allowing you to split up your paternity leave over a longer period of time. It is, after all, in their interests to encourage a healthy work-life balance that gets the best out of you and keeps you motivated and happy.
The information on these pages is provided for your information and reference only. Before making any important decisions regarding your employment or any legal matter, you should consult a qualified professional adviser who can provide specific advice based on your individual position. You can receive additional guidance from the government-run employment advice service Acas.