When you and your partner start a family, the dad-to-be is usually entitled to paid time off work.
Here’s a quick guide to what he should get.
At a glance
- He's entitled to Paternity Leave
- It's less flexible than Maternity Leave, it can't start until after the baby is born
- He will have to take time in blocks rather than the odd day here and there
Time off for hands-on-dads
Times have moved on since dads kept a distance from babies - pacing around in the waiting room during labour, wetting the baby’s head down the pub and heading straight back to work the next day. Now most dads want to be more hands-on, cutting the cord, enjoying skin-to-skin bonding time and helping with those hundreds of baby-related jobs.
So these days, partners can usually take a week or two off work when the baby’s first born, and even a longer stretch if they want to when the mum returns to work. Some family-friendly employers offer their own pay and terms when it comes to paternity leave, so it’s asking your to check. Here’s the lowdown on what men are legally entitled to claim...
Ordinary Paternity Leave
Your other half may be entitled to ordinary paternity leave – usually one or two weeks off work.
When can they take it?
Dads don’t get the same flexibility as mums. For example their leave can’t start before the birth. So if they want to attend scans or appointments before the birth they may have to take the day as holiday, or make the time up another day.
When can it start?
Ordinary paternity leave has to taken in one big block. This can start the week your baby’s due, the day your baby’s born or an agreed number of days after the birth. So you can’t take odd days here and there.
Will I qualify?
To qualify for Ordinary Paternity Leave your partner must have been with his employer for at least 26 weeks by the 15th week before the start of the week when the baby is due. And they need to be earning at least £109 a week, before tax.
During this time off your other half is entitled to either £136.78 a week or 90% of their average weekly earnings (whichever is lower). Tax and National Insurance also need to be taken off.
Timing is everything and you really need to do things by the book. Dads-to-be should tell their employer when they plan to take paternity leave as soon as possible - and no later than the end of the 15th week before the expected week their baby is due. Employers need to know the baby’s due date, and when they expect their paternity leave to start.
What if I don’t qualify?
If you don’t qualify for Paternity Leave, your employer may still give your partner some time off, or you could take paid holiday.
Additional Paternity Leave
Fathers who really want to get involved are now entitled to Additional Paternity Leave. It’s unpaid but it allows them to take a much longer stretch of time off, a few months after the birth. They can take up to 26 weeks when you return to work, (and aren't claiming maternity pay), and they can take this any time after your baby reaches 20 weeks.
Employment rights when on leave
The good news is, your partner’s employment rights are protected while on paternity leave. This includes his right to:
- pay rises
- build up (accrue) holiday
- return to work
Need to complain?
If your employer isn't playing ball, you should take action:
- talk to your employer and make sure you get a written explanation
- make a formal complaint, or speak to your trade union or employees’ rep if you have one
- call HM Revenue & Customs employee's enquiry line on 0845 302 1479 for advice
For detailed information visit the Money Advice Service, or the government’s website.