Paternity Leave - Ordinary and Additional Paternity Leave and Pay

Paternity Leave
Statutory Paternity Leave was introduced into the UK in 2003, and in many eyes was long overdue.

We now live in a more equal society where it is not always the mother that holds the task of caring for and bringing up a child, and where in many cases this job is shared between both parents.
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Ordinary Paternity Leave

If the father-to-be fulfils certain requisitions, the law states that he will be entitled to up to two weeks Ordinary Statutory Paternity Leave from work plus Statutory Paternity Pay during this time. This is in addition to any annual paid leave that goes with the job.

Many companies have their own regulations for paternity leave, which should be included in the written contract or handbook. Often these are more generous in both time and money than what is offered by the government.

To qualify for Ordinary Paternity Leave

To qualify for Ordinary Paternity Leave from the state you must be one of the following:
  • The biological father of the child
  • The husband or partner of the mother (includes same sex partnerships)
  • The child's adopter or the husband or partner of the adopter
In terms of work-related requirements, you must:
  • Have a contract of employment
  • Have worked for a minimum of 26 continuous weeks by the end of the 15th week before the baby is due to be born
  • Have worked for a minimum of 26 continuous weeks by the end of the week that you have been told that you have been matched with a child
This time is allotted to those that intend to share the responsibility of bringing up the child and the time is given to assist the mother or carer. Ordinary Paternity Leave is not given to those who are self-employed, casual workers, agency workers or sub-contractors.

Those that do not qualify can take time off as unpaid leave or annual leave, although unpaid emergency leave to attend the birth is a legal right.

How long is Ordinary Paternity Leave?

The time allowed for Ordinary Paternity Leave to those who are eligible consists of one or two weeks, which must be taken together, consecutively. A week is based on your normal working week.

Giving notice

It is important to note that the correct notice must be given if you want to qualify for paternity leave. If this is not done, you may lose the right to take the time off. You must tell your employer in writing the following information:
  • When the baby is due or the date that the child will be given to you for adoption
  • Whether you want one or two weeks paternity leave
  • The exact date when you want the paternity leave to start (can be any day of the week)
This notice must be given at least 15 weeks before the week that the baby is due (around the 25th week of pregnancy) or within one week of being told that you have been matched with a child.

If you are unable to give this amount of notice, you must have a valid reason as to why, and then subsequently give as much notice as is possible.

Ordinary Statutory Paternity Pay

The Ordinary Statutory Paternity Pay rate is paid at £138.18 per week or 90% of your average weekly wage if what you earn is less than the above amount.
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Additional Paternity Leave

Additional Paternity Leave, if you are eligible, allows up to 26 additional weeks (six months), on top of the Ordinary Paternity Leave, to take time off work and stay at home to care for the newborn or newly adopted child.

This is on the basis that the mother will return to work and is entitled to maternity leave etc. and that all payments to her have stopped.

Additional Paternity Leave must be taken any time from 20 weeks from the baby's birth up to the child's first birthday, or between 20 and 52 weeks from when the adoptive child is placed with you.

To qualify for Additional Paternity Leave you must be one of the following:
  • The biological father of the child
  • The husband or partner of the mother (includes same sex partnerships)
  • The child's adopter or the husband or partner of the adopter
You must also:
  • Have a contract of employment
  • Have worked for 26 continuous weeks by the end of the 15th week before the baby is due to be born
  • Have worked for 26 continuous weeks by the end of the week that you have been told that you have been matched with a child
  • Still be in employment when you take the leave

Giving notice

As with Ordinary Paternity Leave, you must also give notice in writing if you want to take Additional Paternity Leave. Notice should be given at least eight weeks before you wish to start the paternity leave.

When giving your notice you must include:
  • The expected date of the birth
  • The real date of the baby's birth or placement of adoption
  • The date that you wish to start the Additional Paternity Leave
  • The relationship to the mother or adopter of the child

Additional Paternity Leave Pay

The rate of payment for Additional Paternity Leave is the same as that for Ordinary Paternity Leave.
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