Paternity rights

By paternity rights we are talking about the amount of time you as a dad can get off of work when your child is born and your rights as an employee once your child is here if you need to care for them.

As a father, one of the things that can seem unfair is the amount of time you are allowed off of work when you have a baby, in relation to your partner. In this day and age of sexually equality it would seem strange that fathers are discriminated against. There is talk of the Government introducing a new scheme where fathers can have up to 26 weeks additional paternity leave, some of which could be paid if the mother returns to work early. This in itself however introduces other issues, as if your employer does not offer the same terms of pay as your partner’s employer. For example it may not be an option for you to take statutory pay over her fully paid leave. For many new dads and dads to be these can be stressful times when trying to figure out how he can support his new family. We all know its not cheap and current talk of credit crunch and raiding savings is doing nothing to elevate those concerns.

So what are your statutory paternity rights??

To be entitled to paternity pay you must be the biological father of the baby or the mother’s husband or partner and have been employed by your current employer for 26 weeks by the 15th week of the pregnancy.

You are entitled to two weeks paternity leave, this must be taken as either one week or two consecutive weeks’ leave.  It cannot be taken as odd days or two separate weeks.

It can start on the date of your child’s birth, a set number of days after the birth or on a specified date, however your paternity leave must completed by the 56th day after your baby is born. You will also need to let your employer know what you are doing before 15 weeks of the pregnancy have expired.

You may also be entitled to statutory paternity pay at £112.75 a week, or 90 percent of your average earnings if you earn less than £112.75 per week but more than £84 per week.
To claim Statutory Paternity Pay  you must tell your employer, the expected week of the baby’s birth, whether you wish to take one or two weeks’ leave and when you want to start leave. You must also supply your employer with a form SC3 at least 23 days before you want the Statutory Paternity Pay to start.
You may find that your employer pays you more than the standard rate, but this is entirely at their discretion, so check your contract.

Now £112.75 is not a lot of money in this day and age, and we know a lot of guys that have only taken 1 week or that have taken paid holiday instead of the paternity pay. This is perfectly acceptable, and maybe preferable if you do not want to take a financial hit at this difficult and expensive time in your life. You are also entitled to Parental Leave which is different.

Parental Leave

If you have children under 5 and have worked for your current employer for a year, you are also entitled to unpaid parental leave to help care for them if you need to.

You are allowed 13 weeks in total, not per year, for each child you have until they reach the age of five. Both parents are entitled to this, and even if you are separated from your partner, but still retain some formal responsibility for them, you are entitled.

Parental leave must be taken in week long blocks and you can take a maximum of four weeks a year per child. Understandably your employer is going to need notice when you want to take parental leave, and you are required to give them 21 days notice. If you taking leave is going to impact their business they can postpone it for up to six months as long as they respond within seven days of receiving your request.

Obviously, the above does not apply if you need to take time off at short notice to care for your child; however you are entitled to something called “Right to Time Off for Dependents”.

This allows you to take a reasonable amount of unpaid time off work to deal with certain unexpected or sudden emergencies that involve dependents; a dependent is a husband, wife, child or parent. This right is for genuine emergencies however there is no limit to the amount of times you can use it and it should not be abused.

As this is unpaid it may be worth talking to your employer about making time up, or taking holidays.

We think the best advice, is to check your contract, as your terms and conditions of employment maybe better than the statutory rights described here, and to keep your employer as informed as possible as to what is going on. This will mean that everybody knows what is going on and can alleviate problems that may arise if you do not keep your employer in the loop.

Written by Jason Snelling from the website for dads