Legal Article - Employment Law

Paternity Leave Entitlement

New fathers are entitled to 2 weeks paternity leave once their child has been born. They are paid at the statutory rate of £128.73 per week or 90% of their gross weekly earnings, whichever is lower. As with Maternity pay this is reclaimable in part from the Government. It is now referred to as Ordinary Paternity Leave (OPL) as the rights of expectant parents have recently been extended.

In order to qualify for OPL, applicants must be earning over £102 per week before tax deductions. Those eligible for OPL are those whose partner has just given birth of have just adopted a child and they are either the biological father of are to play a primary role in the child’s upbringing.

OPL does apply to same sex couples as long as they are the partner of the person having the baby and resides with them at the time of the birth or adoption. Those who qualify for OPL must have accrued a minimum of 26 weeks continuous service with the employer 15 weeks prior to the EWC.

If the employee is a contract / fixed term worker and their contract ends prior to the EWC then they will lose their entitlement unless they are re-employed under an associated company.

Employers must be notified no later than 15 weeks, prior to EWC, of the employees intention to take OPL. Employees must stipulate the babies due date, when they wish to leave to begin OPL and if they wish to take 1 or 2 weeks leave. Unlike with Maternity leave, employees are not obligate to produce documents to verify the pregnancy.

The rules relating to adoption differ slightly. Employees only have to give 7 days notice of OPL from when they are told they are going to be adopting the child.
An employee must take OPL in blocks of one week, they cannot use the two weeks as 14 one off days. If an employee chooses only to use 1 of the 2 weeks, they will not be able to use the other week at another time.

Employees have the choice as to whether they start their OPL on the day of the birth; this will require flexibility from employers as the baby could arrive early or late. An employee can also choose a date and begin the OPL regardless of when the birth is. OPL must be taken within 56 days of the child being born or they will lose their entitlement.

As with Maternity leave, employees must be able to return to work under the same conditions under which they left. They are also protected from dismissal, discrimination and redundancy selection.

Under the Additional Paternity Leave 2010 act, expectant parents have been given extended rights to time away from work to spend with their new child. This is known as Additional Paternity Leave (APL).
This right is extended to all expectant fathers of either new born or adopted children after the 3rd April 2011.

The notification process is the same as OPL but employees are only required to give 8 weeks notice prior to their leaving date not the usual 15. Employees must also provide written notification stating that they are the child’s primary care giver and this is the reason or undertaking APL.

The payment of Additional Statutory Paternity Pay (ASPP) is the same as OPL and SMP. Payment for ASPP begins no earlier than 20 weeks after the date of the child’s birth and runs for the same period of time as SMP.

Published: 27 May 2011

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