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Paternity leave and pay

Author: Lynda Macdonald


This line manager briefing examines the law and best practice on paternity leave and pay, including eligibility to take paternity leave, employees' rights during and after paternity leave, and the choices available to employees with regard to the scheduling of paternity leave.

It should be noted that the rights and duties discussed in this briefing are the minimum statutory rights and duties. Individual employers may offer their employees contractual entitlements over and above the minimum statutory rights. Employees' contractual terms may therefore be the source of further rights and duties that line managers will be required to take into account.

Paternity leave should not be confused with ordinary parental leave. Employees who are parents and have at least one year's service have the right to take up to 18 weeks' unpaid ordinary parental leave before their child's 18th birthday. Ordinary parental leave is available to both parents in respect of each qualifying child.

Additional paternity leave (the right to take a period of between two and 26 weeks' leave), has been abolished and replaced by shared parental leave.

Although in some cases female employees are eligible for paternity leave and pay, for the purposes of simplicity, this briefing refers to "he" and "him" throughout.