Data File: Paternity rights

The
Employment Act 2002 introduces new rights to paternity leave and pay that will
be available to employees whose children are expected to be born, or are born,
on or after 6 April 2003. Linda Farrell, head of employment rights &
benefits at Bristows, sets out the details

Eligibility

An employee is eligible if:

– He has or expects to have responsibility for his baby’s upbringing and is
either the biological father or the mother’s husband or partner (partner refers
to someone who lives with the mother, either male or female, in an enduring
family relationship, but who is not a blood relative)

– He has worked continuously for the same employer for 26 weeks as at the
fifteenth week before the expected week of childbirth (EWC) and continues in
that employment up to the date of birth

– He wishes to take the time off either to care for the new baby or to
support the mother

– The baby is born, or the EWC falls, on or after 6 April 2003

Paternity leave may also be taken by the partner of an individual who
adopts, or the member of a couple adopting jointly who does not take adoption
leave.

Amount and timing of leave

Employees can take up to two weeks’ leave, either one week or two
consecutive weeks (but not two separate weeks)

– Leave must be taken within 56 days of the birth or, where the child is
born earlier than expected, between the date of birth and 56 days from the
first day of the EWC

Notice requirements

– An employee who wishes to take leave must notify his employer no later
than the fifteenth week before the EWC of:

a) the date of the EWC

b) whether he wishes to take one or two weeks’ leave

c) the date he wishes his leave to commence

– An employee may change the commencement date provided he gives his employer
at least 28 days’ notice of the new start date

– Where the EWC falls before 6 April 2003, but the baby is born on or after
that date, the employee must give his employer not less than 28 days’ notice of
the date on which he wishes his leave to commence.

– An employee must inform his employer of the date of the child’s birth as
soon as practicable after the birth

Eligibility for statutory paternity pay

– In addition to the qualifications for leave (see eligibility above), an
employee must have average weekly earnings at or above the Lower Earnings Limit
for National Insurance as at the fifteenth week before the EWC and must give
the employer at least 28 days’ notice of his intention to claim paternity pay

– An employee must also give his employer a signed declaration that he:

a) is taking leave either to care for the child or to support the mother

b) has or expects to have responsibility for the upbringing of the child

c) is the father of the child and/or the husband or partner of the mother

– Statutory paternity pay will be paid at the same rate as statutory
maternity pay – that is £100 per week for babies born on or after 6 April 2003
(£75 per week if born prior to 6 April 2003) or 90 per cent of average weekly
earnings (if less).

Rights during paternity leave

An employee is entitled to the benefit of all his terms and conditions of
employment, except those relating to remuneration, and to return to the same
job. He is also protected from dismissal or unfair treatment on grounds that he
took or intended to take paternity leave.

Sources

www.dti.gov.uk/er/paternity.htm
www.tiger.gov.uk
www.hmso.gov.uk
www.cipd.co.uk/infosource
www.maternityalliance.org.uk

 

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