Employees with a qualifying relationship to a pregnant woman or her expected child and who will be responsible for the child’s upbringing could be entitled to paid paternity leave.
In addition, they have the right to take unpaid time off during working hours to accompany the pregnant woman to an antenatal appointment on up to two occasions for a maximum of six-and-a-half hours on each occasion.
A qualifying relationship would be someone who’s either:
• The woman’s husband or civil partner
• A person who isn’t related to the woman but is living with her in a stable relationship
• The parent of the expected child
• A potential applicant for a parental order (meaning that they can take leave to support a surrogate mother)
Employees who meet the above qualification status may also take paid time off for up to 2 ante-natal care appointments.
In addition, they're protected against unfair treatment or dismissal based on requesting or taking parental leave, and they have a right to bring a complaint to an employment tribunal if they are denied or delayed their parental leave, which may result in you paying them compensation.
Paternity leave is not the same as shared parental leave. If an employee wants to take longer than the statutory permitted time-frames for paternity leave, they may be intending to take shared parental leave instead of a simple paternity leave. Different rules apply to shared parental leave. Take a look at our guide to shared parental leave to find out more.
How is paternity leave arranged?
To take paternity leave, the employee must notify you of their requirements, including details of the expected week of childbirth (EWC), how much leave they’d like to take, and the date that they would like to begin their leave.
This information should be given to you by the end of the 15th week before the estimated week of childbirth (referred to as ‘the qualifying week’, or QW).
How much paternity leave is an employee entitled to?
The employee can choose from 1 week or 2 consecutive weeks, in total.
When does paternity leave start?
As long as the paternity leave is taken within 56 days of the date of childbirth (or within 56 days of the first day of the expected week of childbirth, if the child is born early), the employee can start their paternity leave from either:
• The date of childbirth
• A chosen number of days/weeks after the date of childbirth
• A selected date that is later than the first day of the expected week of childbirth, with the requirement to delay their leave until the actual date of childbirth, if the child arrives late
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