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FAQs: Paternity Rights For Employees

An increasing number of fathers are choosing to take paternity leave in order to care for a new arrival to the family or to provide support to their partners. If you are interested in learning more about paternity leave or paternity pay, read our FAQs on paternity rights for employees.

  1. “I don’t want to take paternity leave at the time of my baby’s birth but want to be present at the birth itself. Is my employer allowed to refuse to give me the time off?”
  2. “Am I entitled to take some time off after the birth of my baby?”
  3. “My wife and I are having a baby but her earnings are higher than mine. Is it possible for me, instead of her, to take some type of extended leave to look after our baby?”
  4. “Can I split my paternity leave?”
  5. “I have worked for my employer for more than six months. Will I be paid if I take paternity leave?”
  6. “I am currently taking Additional Paternity Leave but I want to return to work early. Is this possible?”
  7. “I have been told that only the mother is entitled to do ‘keeping in touch’ days. Is this true?”
  8. “Will I accrue holiday whilst on paternity leave?”
  9. “I want to take paternity leave but I am worried that my employer will make me feel awkward about it. What can I do?”
  10. “I do not want to take Additional Paternity Leave but I do want to work reduced hours in order to see more of my baby and to help my partner. What rights do I have?”

“I don’t want to take paternity leave at the time of my baby’s birth but want to be present at the birth itself. Is my employer allowed to refuse to give me the time off?”

You are entitled to request Dependants’ Leave to attend the birth of your baby. You should do this as soon as your partner goes into labour to give your employer as much notice as possible. Your employer must allow you to take ‘reasonable time off’ in order to ‘provide assistance’.

“Am I entitled to take some time off after the birth of my baby?”

Provided you have been employed for 26 weeks or more by the time of the 15th week before the due date you are entitled to take one or two weeks’ Ordinary Paternity Leave. Ordinary Paternity Leave can be taken within 6 weeks of your baby being born. You must give your employer notice in the 15th week before the due date that you wish to take the leave and that you wish to claim statutory paternity pay.

“My wife and I are having a baby but her earnings are higher than mine. Is it possible for me, instead of her, to take some type of extended leave to look after our baby?”

If your wife returns to work then you may be entitled to leave known as Additional Paternity Leave, which lasts between 2 and 26 weeks. This can only be taken between 20 and 52 weeks after your baby is born.

To qualify for Additional Paternity Leave you must have been employed for 26 weeks or more by the 15th week before the expected due date. You must also still be employed by the same employer until the week before the first week of Additional Paternity Leave. Finally, you must have given your employer at least 15 weeks’ notice of the baby’s due date and you must also you have given at least 8 weeks’ notice of your intention to take this leave.

Within 28 days of telling your employer that you want to take this leave, they should confirm your leaving date and your return date.

“Can I split my paternity leave?”

Ordinary Paternity Leave (2 weeks) can be split over 6 weeks. However, Additional Paternity Leave (of between 2 and 26 weeks) must be taken all at once.

“I have worked for my employer for more than six months. Will I be paid if I take paternity leave?”

If you take Ordinary Paternity Leave your employer must pay you Statutory Paternity Pay, but check your contract or your employer’s paternity policy as this might entitle you to receive a higher rate of paternity pay.

If you take Additional Paternity Leave and you are on a low salary you may be entitled to receive Additional Statutory Paternity Pay. Whether you are eligible to receive Additional Statutory Paternity Pay will depend upon your partner’s circumstances and the age of your child when you take this leave. If you are eligible for Additional Statutory Paternity Pay it is paid at the same rate as Statutory Maternity Pay.

“I am currently taking Additional Paternity Leave but I want to return to work early. Is this possible?”

If you are already taking Additional Paternity Leave and want to return early then you should give at least six weeks’ notice of when you wish to come back to work. If you do not give six weeks’ notice – and where it is “not reasonably practicable” for your employer to welcome you back sooner – then your employer can require you to take the six weeks’ leave.

“I have been told that only the mother is entitled to do ‘keeping in touch’ days. Is this true?”

No. A father taking Additional Paternity Leave is entitled to take up to ten “Keeping In Touch” Days or “KIT days” too.

“Will I accrue holiday whilst on paternity leave?”

Yes, you will. Your paternity leave should not be regarded as holiday and you will accrue holiday in the normal way while you are on paternity leave. If your employer does not let you accrue leave then this could mean you have a “detriment” claim and possibly a claim under the Working Time Regulations.

“I want to take paternity leave but I am worried that my employer will make me feel awkward about it. What can I do?”

It would be unlawful for your employer to subject you to a detriment because you take or are seeking to take any type of paternity leave. If necessary you could bring a claim to an Employment Tribunal to recover compensation for your “injury to feelings”. If your employer dismisses you for taking any type of paternity leave, you would also have a claim for automatic unfair dismissal.

You might be interested to know that most employers can claim back Statutory Paternity Pay and Additional Statutory Paternity Pay from the government. In some circumstances they can off-set against Employer National Insurance Contributions for other employees so that they are not left out of pocket; and some smaller employers can even get “loans” from HMRC to cover the amounts.

Therefore your employer should not make you feel bad for requesting leave and pay!

“I do not want to take Additional Paternity Leave but I do want to work reduced hours in order to see more of my baby and to help my partner. What rights do I have?”

One option is to submit a Flexible Working Request – see our factsheet on flexible working. Men are entitled to have Flexible Working Requests considered in just the same way as women. If your employer is not taking your request seriously and you think this is because you are male, then you may be entitled to bring a claim for sex discrimination.

For further advice on paternity rights at work, contact us today on 01273 609911, or email info@ms-solicitors.co.uk.

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