This month sees the introduction of some changes to paternity leave entitlements which will introduce additional paternity leave for a child expected on or after 3 April 2011, or whose adopter is notified of being matched with a child on or after that date.
This additional leave is on top of ordinary statutory paternity leave which continues to last for one or two weeks.
An employee may be entitled to paid Ordinary Statutory Paternity Leave (SPL) of up to two weeks for the birth of a child. Ordinary SPL is leave of up to two weeks. The leave must be taken as either one whole week or two consecutive weeks. Ordinary SPL cannot start before the baby is born and must end no later than eight weeks after the baby is born.
A father (including the spouse, civil partner or partner of the mother) of a child expected on or after 3 April 2011 will be entitled to additional paternity leave provided they meet the qualifying conditions. To be entitled to additional paternity leave for a birth an employee must:
- be the biological father of the child, or be married to or be the partner or civil partner of the child’s mother, and have or expect to have, the main responsibility for bringing up the child along with the mother; and
- have been continuously employed by the same employer for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the expected week of birth; and
- still be in continuous employment with that employer until the week before the first week of additional paternity leave; and
- have provided their employer with evidence of their entitlement. This includes:
- a leave notice specifying in writing the child’s expected week of birth, the child’s date of birth and the dates the employee has chosen to start and end their additional paternity leave; and
- an employee declaration specifying in writing that the purpose of the leave will be to care for the child and that the employee is the child’s father, or the mother’s husband, partner or civil partner and has, or expects to have, responsibility for the child along with the mother; and
- a declaration from the mother of the child which must be in writing and include her name and address, the date she intends to return to work, her national insurance number, that the employee is the father of the child, or is the mother's husband, partner or civil partner and shares responsibility for the child with her, that the employee is, to the mother's knowledge, the only person seeking to take additional paternity leave in respect of the child and that she consents to the employer processing such information as is contained in the declaration.
- have given their employer the required notice. An employee must give their employer at least eight weeks’ notice of their intention to take additional paternity leave for the birth of a child; and
- the child’s mother must be entitled to one or more of statutory maternity leave, statutory maternity pay or maternity allowance and have, or be treated as having, returned to work.
The minimum period of additional paternity leave is two consecutive weeks, and the maximum is 26 weeks. The leave must be taken in multiples of complete weeks and must be taken as one continuous period. Additional paternity leave can be taken at any time within the period which begins 20 weeks after the date on which the child is born and ends twelve months after that date.
The rates of statutory paternity pay are the same for both ordinary statutory paternity pay and additional statutory paternity pay. For a paternity pay period starting on or after 3 April 2011 the rate of statutory paternity pay is whichever is the lower of £128.73 or 90% of normal weekly earnings. It can be paid for up to 19 weeks.
Further information is available from your local CAB.Guidance on paternity leave and pay can be found on www.nidirect.gov.uk if you are an employee or worker and www.nibusinessinfo.co.uk if you are an employer.
Siobhan Harding is an Information and Policy Officer with Citizens Advice