Over the last few years, successive governments have introduced legislation that compels employers to provide a minimum amount of paid time-off for eligible fathers allowing them to spend some time with their new child and share the experience with their partner. This guide is intended to cover the key areas and help you claim your entitlements.
Key Points to Consider
The following allowances are the statutory minimum requirements under current legislation (the laws are due to change in 2015); some employers may provide more generous provision through their own company paternity schemes
- if you aren't eligible for paid leave, you may still be able to take unpaid leave.
- the entitlements remain the same even in the event of multiple births.
- eligibility doesn’t dependent on means testing and there isn't an age limit.
- your employment rights are protected while on paternity leave.
Am I Eligible for Paternity Pay?
You are entitled to paternity leave if you:
- are the biological father of the child or the husband/partner of the mother.
- have responsibility for the child.
- an employee.
- earn on average at least £109 a week (before tax).
- have worked for your employer continuously for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the due date (this is known as the ‘qualifying week’).
- give the correct notice to your employer (see below).
How Much Paid Leave Am I Entitled to?
Basically, you are entitled to 1 or 2 weeks of Ordinary Paternity Leave (OPL). This means that you can take either 1 or 2 weeks leave which must be taken in one go after the birth of your child. Also, you must return to work no later than 56 days after the birth.
In addition to the 2 weeks OPL, you may be able to take a further 26 weeks Additional Paternity Leave (APL).
However, this type of leave dependents on the mother going back to work and transferring her existing entitlements to you. She will need to have qualified for one of the following:
- Statutory Maternity Leave or Pay.
- Maternity Allowance.
You will need to:
- still be employed by your employer the week (Saturday to Sunday) before your leave or pay starts.
- confirm the start and end dates of your partner’s leave.
- confirm your partner has at least 2 weeks left of their maternity or adoption pay.
What Pay Will I Receive During the Leave?
During OPL and APL, if eligible, you will be paid Ordinary Paternity Pay (OPP) and Additional Paternity Pay (APP) respectively.
OPP and APP are currently set at the same weekly rate: £138.18, or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is lower).
This pay is subject to Income Tax and National Insurance and will be paid in accordance with your normal payment structure, i.e. weekly or monthly. Your employer must confirm the start and end dates for your paternity pay when you claim it.
How Do I Give Notice and What Forms Will I Need to Fill in?
For OPL and OPP, you must provide your employer (either verbally or in writing depending on their preference) at least 15 weeks before the week the baby is expected with the following information :
- the due date of the baby.
- when you require your leave to start.
- if you want 1 or 2 weeks’ leave.
- a completed SC3 form at least 28 days before you want your OPP to start.
This very useful planner on the gov.uk website will help you work out all the relevant dates.
For APL and APP, you will need to provide your employer with a completed SC7 form at least 8 weeks before you want your APL to start.
Your employer will ask for the following evidence, which you must provide within 28 days:
- a copy of your child’s birth certificate.
- the employment details of the mother.
Is that Everything?
Well, that covers most of the information you need. As always, do your own research and if in doubt visit the gov.uk website or the Citizens Advice Bureau which are both packed with useful information. Then, with your paternity leave sorted, you will be able to enjoy the arrival of your new child!
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