Paternity Leave was introduced through the Employment Act 2002. Subject to certain qualifying requirements relevant employees are entitled to one or two weeks’ paternity leave from work when the baby is born. Employees can also qualify for paternity leave when they adopt a child.
To qualify for Paternity Leave, employees need to expect to have responsibility for the child’s upbringing, be the biological father or mother’s partner (this can include same sex partner) and have 26 weeks continuous service at the 15th week before the baby is due.
Employees are able to take either one or two consecutive weeks of leave. There is no legal right to take leave in individual days or two separate weeks. Leave has to be taken within eight weeks of the actual date of birth.
Employees who earn at least the lower earnings limit are entitled to receive Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP) for the weeks taken as leave. This is paid at a flat rate or at 90% of average weekly earnings if this is less than the flat rate.
The provision also applies to circumstances where a child is adopted
Eligible parents of children born or matched for adoption are entitled to share the care of their child during the first year after their birth or adoption. Parents have the option of choosing to end their maternity leave and share the remaining leave as flexible parental leave. Mothers still need take the initial two or four weeks following the birth of the child but can then split the remaining weeks of Shared Parental Leave any way they want. SMP is still paid for 39 weeks.