It’s not just mums that need time off with a baby, dads do too.
Once your baby is born, you may be entitled to up to two weeks paternity leave. Under new rules, dads can take up to 26 weeks paid paternity leave if the mother/co-adopter returns to work.
Your employer is legally obliged to allow you to take ordinary paternity leave (OPL) in addition to your normal holiday allowance.
You must take the time off in one go and not in bits and it must be taken before your baby it 56 days old.
Check with your employer what they offer, as some employers will offer more time off than average.
You need to have been with your employer for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before your baby is due – basically, around 41 weeks before the due date.
If you are adopting, then you need to have been with your employer for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the end of the week that you are told you’ve been matched with your child for adoption.
If you haven’t been with your employer long enough, then you may still be entitled to parental leave, although you will not get paid for the time off.
You must also meet at least one of the following to qualify for OPL:
- be the baby’s biological father
- be the mother’s husband or partner, including same-sex relationships
- or be the child’s adopting parent
- or the husband or partner of the adopting parent, including same-sex relationships
Your employer may ask for your intention to take paternity leave in writing, in which case you should fill out a self-certification form SC3.
The becoming a parent form also acts as a self certification and it may be a good idea to fill this in regardless of whether your employer asks for it.
The statutory flat rate paid your employer is £135.45, or 90% of your average weekly earnings if you earn less than the flat rate. You must be earning at least £107 a week before tax to get this.
The paternity pay is subject to tax and national insurance.
This is the legal minimum your employer has to give you, but it could be that your employer has a generous paternity package and you could get more. You should discuss your options with your employer to see what they offer.
Give your employer at least 28 days’ notice of when you intend to take your paternity leave – don’t worry, we all know babies don’t always arrive when expected and your employer will know this.
Additional paternity leave
Since April 2011, dads or partner can swap up to six months of the mum’s maternity leave for paternity leave instead.
Known as additional paternity leave, it allows the mum to go back to work earlier and for dads to be more involved in the upbringing of their children.
Dads would be entitled to the same rights as the mum.
To qualify, you have to have been with your employer for 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before your baby is due – basically, around 41 weeks before the due date and you must be with the same employer the week before you want your additional paternity leave to start.
In addition, the mum must be receiving one of the following:
- Statutory maternity pay
- Maternity allowance
- Statutory adoption leave or pay
The idea is that her statutory benefits are transferred over to you.
If you wish to take additional paternity leave, you must give your employer at least 8 weeks’ notice, although it would be a good idea to tell them as soon as possible.
You can take off a maximum of 26 weeks which can start anytime after your baby is 20 weeks old and the mum goes back to work. Your time off must be taken before your baby is one year old.