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FAQs: Paternity Rights for Employees

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

You don’t want to take paternity leave at the time of your baby’s birth but want to be present at the birth itself. Is your employer allowed to refuse to give you 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’.

Are you entitled to take some time off after the birth of your 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.

You and your partner are having a baby but her earnings are higher than yours. Is it possible for you, instead of her, to take some type of extended leave to look after your baby?

If your partner returns to work then you may be entitled to leave known as Shared Parental Leave. Your partner may be able to transfer up to 50 weeks of their maternity leave and 37 weeks of their statutory maternity pay into statutory paternity leave and pay to share this with you.

You must have been employed for 26 weeks or more by the 15th week before the expected due date to qualify for Shared Parental Leave. Additionally, your partner must have also worked at least 26 weeks and earned an average of £30 a week in any 13 weeks out of the 66 weeks before the due date.

To book SPL, you may need to submit up to five notices for the periods you wish to take. The first notice must be submitted at least eight weeks before you want to take the first period of SPL. This must include a declaration from your partner confirming her agreement with the proposal.
You are able to take SPL at any time from the date of birth to the day before your child’s first birthday.

Can you split your paternity leave?

Ordinary Paternity Leave (2 weeks) can be split over 6 weeks.

Shared Parental Leave can be split into multiple periods, but your employer does not have to agree to this. Where your notice requests discontinuous periods, your employer can take two weeks to decide whether they accept or refuse the request, or propose alternatives. If your request for discontinuous periods is refused by your employer, you can take the total amount of leave requested as a continuous period or withdraw your original request. Up to three notices may be submitted.

You have worked for your employer for more than six months. Will you be paid if you 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 meet the requirements of Shared Parental Leave, you will likely be entitled to Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) if you have normal weekly earnings of at least the lower earnings threshold for national insurance contributions. If you qualify for Statutory Paternity Pay you will have met this threshold.

If you are eligible for SPL, you and your partner will share a total entitlement of 37 weeks of ShPP, minus any weeks or days the mother received or will receive Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance. If both you and your partner qualify for ShPP, you are able to choose how to divide the ShPP between you and must inform your employers of this in writing.

You are currently taking Shared Parental Leave but you want to return to work early. Is this possible?

If you are already taking Shared Parental 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.

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

No. If you take Shared Parental Leave you are entitled to up to 20 ‘shared parental leave keeping in touch’ days without bringing your leave to an end. These are separate to any keeping in touch days that a mother is entitled to while on maternity leave.

Will you 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.

You want to take paternity leave but you are worried that your employer will make you feel awkward about it. What can you 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 from the government. Your employer can also recover at least 92% of Shared Parental 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!

You do not want to take Shared Parental Leave but you do want to work reduced hours in order to see more of your baby and to help your partner. What rights do you 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.

Martin Searle Solicitors, 9 Marlborough Place, Brighton, BN1 1UB
T: 01273 609 991 info@ms-solicitors.co.uk

Martin Searle Solicitors is the trading name of ms solicitors ltd, which is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, and is registered in England under company number 05067303.

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