Rights for dads and partners

If they fulfil certain conditions, expectant dads or partners of pregnant women can take time off around the birth of their baby.

If an employee is taking time off because their partner is having a baby or they are having a baby through surrogacy or adoption, they may be eligible for the following:

  • 1 or 2 weeks of Paid Paternity Leave
  • Paternity Pay
  • Shared Parental Leave and Pay

While on Paternity Leave or Parental Leave, the employee’s employment rights continue to be protected.

Paternity Leave

Paternity Leave is where an employee takes time off to look after their new baby and/or support the mother.

To be eligible for Paternity Leave, an employee must be the child’s biological father or the mother’s husband or partner.

Your employee must also have had continuous employment with you for at least 26 weeks, ending with the 15th week before the baby is due.

Your employee may also be entitled to Statutory Paternity Pay and Parental Leave if they meet the qualifying criteria.

Paternity Pay

For employees who are eligible, Statutory Paternity Pay is currently £148.68 per week or 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings, if that is less. This is the rate from April 2020. The government usually revises paternity pay rates each April. The money is paid to the employee in the same way as their wages, with tax and National Insurance being deducted.

Your employee must have had continuous employment with you for at least 26 weeks, ending with the 15th week before the baby is due.

Shared parental leave and pay

If you are having a baby or adopting a child, you and your partner could be eligible for Shared Parental Leave (SPL) and Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP).

Shared Parental Leave (SPL)

Shared Parental Leave (SPL) replaced Additional Paternity Leave in April 2015. The previous legislation entitled working dads to 2 weeks of leave following the birth of a child. Now, SPL means that both parents can now have up to 50 weeks of parental leave to share between them following the birth or placement of their child. They can choose to take their leave separately or at the same time, or to take it all in one go or in blocks with periods of work in between.

Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP)

Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) entitles parents to 37 weeks of pay between them, following the birth or placement of their child.

Eligibility criteria

There are lots of different factors to take into account when working out whether your employee is entitled to Shared Parental Leave (SPL) and Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP). For example:

  • how long your employee has been working for you
  • how much they earn per week
  • whether they are ‘employees’ or ‘workers’.

There are different criteria based on whether SPL is going to be shared or if only one parent wishes to use it. There are also different criteria for birth parents and adoptive parents.

The UK government created a tool on their website to make it easier to work out whether your employee is entitled to leave or pay when they have a child.

When working out your employee’s eligibility, it’s important to be aware of the difference between an ‘employee’ and a ‘worker’. Throughout this guide we have used the term ‘employee’ to refer to anyone in employment, however here we are differentiating for the purposes of meeting eligibility criteria.

Worker: A worker is someone who has a contract or other arrangement to do work or services for a reward, usually money. Workers are entitled to certain employment rights.
Employee: An employee is someone who works under an employment contract. All employees are workers, however employees have additional employment rights to those of workers who are not employees.

Attending antenatal appointments

Your employee is entitled to take unpaid leave to accompany a pregnant woman to 2 antenatal appointments. Your employee is allowed to take up to 6 and a half hours for each appointment, however you may choose to give longer.

They need to be one of the following:

  • the baby’s father or the intended parent (if the pregnancy is through a surrogacy arrangement)
  • the expectant mother’s spouse/civil partner
  • be in a long-term relationship with the expectant mother.

If your employee is a permanent employee, then they can apply for leave immediately. If your employee is an agency worker, they will have needed to be doing the job for 12 weeks before they can qualify for leave for antenatal appointments.

If the baby dies

If the baby is stillborn after 24 weeks of pregnancy or is born alive at any stage of the pregnancy but later dies, your employee is still eligible for paternity leave.

Unpaid parental leave

As well as Paternity Leave, your employee can take unpaid parental leave to care for their child if necessary. As long as they meet the qualifying criteria, both parents are entitled to take unpaid parental leave. They also both have the same parental leave allowance in respect of the same child.

Employees with one year’s service or longer are entitled to take 18 weeks’ unpaid parental leave for each child up to the child’s fifth birthday. If a child is adopted, this leave can be taken in the five years following the child’s placement.

Unpaid parental leave can only be taken in blocks of one week, unless you agree otherwise, or the child is disabled. Your employee can take no more than four weeks of unpaid parental leave in one year. Unpaid parental leave can be taken up to the 18th birthday.

Your employee should request unpaid parental leave in writing, giving at least 21 days’ notice. If you employee qualifies for unpaid parental leave, the request should be granted.

If you feel that your employee’s absence would disrupt your business, you can postpone the start date. However, you must inform your employee in writing within seven days of receiving their written request. This response should give your reasons for the postponement and the proposed new start date for the leave. You can’t delay the start of unpaid parental leave unduly and it should not be delayed by more than six months. You also can’t postpone the leave date more than once.