In this article we discuss ordinary paternity leave, when it can be taken and who out of your employees is eligible to take it.
To qualify for ordinary paternity leave (OPL) an employee must meet the following criteria:
An employee wishing to take OPL must give the required notice at least 15 weeks before the baby is expected. They must tell you the expected week of childbirth; the period of leave to be taken (which may be in one block of either one or two weeks) and the date the leave will start (this can be changed with 28 days’ notice). OPL must be taken within 56 days of the expected week of childbirth, or due date if the baby is born early. Eligible employees can choose to take either one week or two consecutive weeks’ paternity leave (not odd days).
During OPL, the employee is entitled to all benefits that they would have received had they not been on paternity leave, except wages and salary (but including benefits in kind). This means that the contract of employment continues and the period on paternity leave counts towards their continuity of employment. An employee’s employment rights (holiday, pay and return to work) are protected during paternity leave.
An employee returning after paternity leave has the right to return to the same job. The employee also has the right not to be subjected to any detrimental dismissal because they took or sought to take paternity leave and any such dismissal will be automatically unfair. Please note that the same exemption for small companies applies in relation to adoption leave.
Statutory paternity pay (SPP) is a payment that you're required to make to eligible employees, even if the employees don't intend to work after the child is born. Employees must request statutory paternity pay at least 28 days before they want it to start. Employees can use form SC3 to do this. You should take a copy and return it to them.
An employee qualifies for SPP (currently at the rate of £138.18 per week or 90 per cent of their average weekly earnings, if lower) if:
Employees still qualify for paternity pay if the baby is either:
You may be able to recover statutory paternity pay from HMRC. Your payroll software should be able to tell you how much you can recover.
To qualify for paternity leave an employee adopting a child must:
An employee adopting a child must give you a copy of their form SC4 for:
For overseas adoptions the notice period is different. It's explained on form SC5.
An employee adopting can start their leave on the date of the placement; an agreed number of days after the date of the placement; on the date the child arrives in the UK or an agreed number of days after this (overseas adoption).
Leave must be taken within 56 days of the date of the placement or the child’s arrival in the UK (overseas adoption).
Employees must give you proof of adoption to qualify for paternity pay. This can be their matching certificate or a letter from the adoption agency.
Shared parental leave is due to be introduced in December. It's a new right that will allow eligible employees - who are mothers, fathers, partners and adopters - to choose how they share time off from work after their child is born or adopted. To take shared parental leave, the baby must be due to be born - or placed for adoption - on or after 5 April 2015.
If you want more in-depth information – from an employment lawyer – about all aspects of employment law, then read our guide Employment Law Made Easy. Packed with tips and expert advice on complying with employment legislation.
Download our solicitor-approved Paternity Leave Policy to protect your business and comply with employment law.
Published on: August 16, 2014