Paternity leave is an almost inevitable part of managing your employees. All employees are entitled to leave when they are expecting a child or going through the adoption or surrogacy process. This is either paternity, maternity leave or adoption leave.
In this article, we’ll explore the statutory rights for paternity leave in the UK. We’ll also highlight the process for statutory entitlement and the length of time an employee can take.
If you manage staff or own a business and you’re looking for specific support on paternity pay then contact Croner on 0808 145 3003 and speak to our award-winning team.
What is statutory Paternity Leave?
Statutory Paternity Leave refers to the period directly after a child's birth that entitles parents to take time off work to support their partner.
Paternity leave rights entitle contracted staff members to this type of absence from work. As with other forms of parental leave, paternity leave provides a baby's father with some time to spend with their new family.
When your employee takes time off after their partner has had a baby, adopted a child or had a baby through a surrogacy arrangement, they might be eligible for:
If one of your employees has a pregnant partner you should plan ahead before the baby is due. In order to manage your resources correctly, you need to ensure that you manage absence.
What are the eligibility criteria for paternity leave and pay?
In order to qualify for statutory paternity leave, an employee must meet the following criteria:
- The father (or expectant father) of the child (or children in cases of multiple births).
- The husband or the mother’s partner (or adopter if they are same-sex partners).
- The intended parent (if they’re having a baby through a surrogacy arrangement).
Your employees must also:
- Have a contract of employment and be classed as an employee (for paternity leave only).
- Be employed by your organisation at the point that leave is taken or placed with the parents by the adoption agency (paternity pay only).
- Earn at least £123 a week (gross) before tax on your payroll.
- Have worked at your company continuously for 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the baby’s due date.
- Plan on sharing parental responsibility for the care of the baby.
- Give you (the employer) the correct notice.
As a result of these requirements, certain individuals, such as agency workers or self-employed and contract workers, are not eligible for paternity leave.
Eligibility criteria for all parental leave and pay will be outlined in an employment contract.
There are additional rules for employees who are in specific situations that could affect their pay. For example, if an employee gets a backdated pay rise, then employers must:
- Recalculate their employee’s average weekly earnings (AWE).
- Pay the extra-statutory paternity pay if applicable.
If an employee isn’t eligible for statutory paternity pay, employers need to recalculate their AWE, as they may now be entitled to it.
Which employees are entitled to Statutory Paternity Leave?
Your employees may be eligible for Statutory Paternity Leave or Statutory Paternity Pay. To qualify your employees should be:
- Expecting a baby or their partner is expecting a baby.
- Having a baby via surrogacy.
- Adopting via an adoption agency. (In the case of adoption employees will qualify for statutory adoption pay and leave. Employees will only be able to take one)
In all instances, the employee may be entitled to certain benefits. It is worth noting that paternity leave is different from maternity leave. Find out more on maternity leave and statutory maternity pay with this Croner calculator.
If the child is born early, the employee is still eligible if they would have worked for you continuously for at least 26 weeks by the qualifying week.
A new Bill is making its way through parliament around neonatal pay and leave. This is to help support the parents of premature babies and babies who require a hospital stay.
Why wouldn’t an employee be entitled to pay?
Employees might not be entitled to paternity pay if they:
- Have been with the company less than 26 weeks.
- Are self-employed.
- Have taken unpaid leave to attend adoption appointments.
How long is Statutory Paternity Leave?
Employees who meet entitlement criteria can choose to take either one week or two consecutive weeks’ paternity leave. The length of time is the same even if they have more than one child (for example, twins).
Leave can’t start before the child's birth (unlike maternity leave). The start date must be either:
- The actual date of birth.
- An agreed number of days after the baby is born.
- An agreed number of days after the expected week of childbirth.
Leave must then conclude within 56 days of the birth. The start and end dates will differ if the employee is adopting.
An employee can, of course, use annual leave to extend the parental leave period. There is also unpaid parental leave and shared parental leave to consider.
How do I know if my employee is entitled to Statutory Paternity Pay?
Paternity leave entitlement in the UK allows your staff who are off work for this reason to be paid, as long as they qualify for paternity leave.
Employees on statutory paternity leave may be entitled to receive statutory paternity pay. The standard weekly pay rate for this is currently £172.48, or 90% of their average weekly earnings. Whichever is lower.
If you decide to offer contractual paternity pay, remember the rate of pay cannot be lower than the statutory rate.
It’s essential to set out the length and amount they’re entitled to in their contract of employment.
How do I calculate an employee’s paternity leave and pay?
Check out this useful GOV guide for calculating paternity leave and pay using their maternity and paternity calculator.
Can employees get additional leave or pay for paternity leave?
There are instances where your employees are entitled to additional leave or pay. For example:
- If their partner returns to work and they qualify for shared parental leave and pay.
- Your organisation may run a contractual pay scheme which offers more leave or pay.
Irrespective of whether you run this kind of scheme or not, it is imperative that your paternity leave and pay policies are clear and easily accessible to all staff.
Is there a form for employees to complete for paternity leave?
To claim paternity leave and pay, employees will need to provide you with a completed copy of form SC3 (or your version of it).
For employees adopting, they’ll need to use form SC4 to apply for leave within seven days of matching with a child.
Employees are required to inform you of:
- The estimated due date.
- When they’d like to start their leave.
- Whether they want one or two weeks’ leave.
Remember, they must give the employer notice by submitting the form no later than the end of the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth.
Although not necessary, most employers request this in writing. For consistency, consider using the paternity leave letter template. Remember you’ll need to adapt it to your specific requirements.
What happens to an employee’s paternity leave and pay if the baby dies?
In this tragic circumstance, the employee would still qualify for paternity leave and pay if they still meet the normal eligibility criteria and if the baby is:
- Born alive at any point in the pregnancy but later dies.
- Is stillborn from 24 weeks of pregnancy onwards.
What happens to employees’ paternity leave in surrogacy arrangements?
If parents have the intention of having a child through a surrogacy arrangement, they may qualify for Statutory Paternity Leave and Pay.
In order to be eligible, the employee must give you a written statement to confirm that they’ve applied or intend to apply for a parental order. This must take place in the 6 months following the baby’s birth.
Do employees have protected employment rights during paternity leave?
An employee’s employment rights, such as pay, pay rises, pension contributions, holidays and returning to a job, are protected during paternity leave.
Employers are still required to pay Statutory Paternity Pay even if they cease trading if they can, if not they would have to claim it from the government.
Get help from Croner on paternity leave and pay
Paternity leave and pay can be a tricky issues to get right. If your staff believe they have received unfair treatment then this could leave your organisation open to tribunal claims.
Clear contracts and documentation are vital, and an employee should be able to claim statutory paternity pay and claim paternity leave with ease.
If you’d like to find out more information on any of the topics mentioned in this article, please contact Croner on 0800 470 2755
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