Employees are entitled to one or two weeks ordinary paternity leave if they meet the following conditions:
- They have been continuously employed for at least 26 weeks by 15 weeks before the expected week of childbirth; or, in adoption cases, have 26 weeks’ service by the week in which they are notified by an adoption agency that they have been matched with a child;
- They are the biological father of the child; or they have been matched with a child by an adoption agency; or they are the spouse, civil partner or partner of the child’s mother; or they are the spouse, civil partner or partner of someone who has been matched with a child by an adoption agency;
- They expect to have main responsibility (with the child’s mother, co-adopter or adopter) for the child’s upbringing; or they are the child’s biological father and they expect to have some responsibility for the child’s upbringing;
- The intended leave is for the purpose of caring for the child, or supporting the child’s mother, adopter or co-adopter in caring for the child.
Paternity leave must be taken within 56 days of the child’s birth, or the expected week of childbirth or adoption placement, and is subject to notice being given.
Employees who take paternity leave are entitled to be paid at the statutory rate (£145.18 from 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019) or 90 per cent of their average weekly earnings (whichever is lower).
Shared parental leave
Shared parental leave allows eligible parents to opt out of maternity leave and instead to “share” up to 50 weeks’ leave and 37 weeks’ statutory pay upon birth or adoption of a child.
SPL may be taken concurrently between parents or consecutively, in blocks of one week. There is also scope for the leave to be taken intermittently, with multiple short periods of leave, so long as the total amount of leave does not exceed 52 weeks between the parents.
To be eligible for SPL and benefit from the pay, parents must satisfy a two-stage test. Both the mother and her partner must fulfil what is called an “Economic Activity” test so they must both have:
- Worked for any 26 out of the 66 weeks preceding the child’s birth; and
- Earned at least £30 gross salary per working week for any 13 of those 66 weeks.
The individual who proposes to take SPL must also satisfy the following service requirement:
- Twenty-six weeks’ continuous service with the same employer at the 15th week before the child’s due date; and
- They must still be working for the same employer when they intend to take the leave.
Alice Reeve is partner at Veale Wasbrough Vizards