Since April 2003 all new fathers have been entitled to two weeks paternity leave if:
- He has or expects to have responsibility for the child's upbringing;
- He is the child's biological father, or is the mother's husband or partner;
- He has worked continually for his employer for 26 continuous weeks leading up to the 15th week before the baby is due.
Employers have the right to ask the employee to provide evidence that one or more of these conditions have been met.
Fathers who are entitled to take paternity leave can take one to two weeks. These must be taken consecutively. Employees may choose to start their leave:
- From the date of the child's birth;
- From a chosen number of days or weeks after the birth;
- From a chosen date.
Paternity leave must be taken:
- Within 56 days of the child's birth; or
- If the child is born early, within the period from the actual date of birth up to 56 days after the expected week of birth.
Fathers are not entitled to any more than two weeks paternity leave for each pregnancy, regardless of whether more than one child is born from the same pregnancy.
Statutory Paternity pay
From April 2004, the statutory allowance for fathers has been the same as the maternity entitlements (currently the lower of £151.20 per week per week or 90% of earnings).
Employees who earn less than £120.00 per week per week are not entitled to statutory paternity pay. In such circumstances the employee may be able to get Income Support while on paternity leave. Additional financial support may also be available through Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit, Tax Credits or a Sure Start Maternity Grant.
In order to qualify for paid Paternity Leave, employees must give their employers notice, if practicable 15 weeks before their baby is due to be born of:
- The week the baby is due;
- Whether they wish to take one or two weeks leave;
- The date on which they wish their leave to start.
Employees may change their mind as to the date that they wish their paternity leave to start. However, they must inform their employer 28 days in advance of any such change (if this is reasonably practicable or a soon as it is reasonably practicable).
With the exception of salary, employees are entitled to their normal contractual benefits while on paternity leave. This includes pension contributions and other benefits. Holiday entitlement will continue to accrue during the period of Paternity Leave.
Employer's recovery of payments
Employers are able to claim back Statutory Paternity Pay payments. For larger employers this is 92% of the amount paid out. Smaller employers may claim back 100% of the amount paid out.