Outlook video: Additional paternity leave

XpertHR's head of content Jo Stubbs and group editor David Shepherd discuss the new right for fathers to take additional paternity leave where their partner returns to work. 


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The questions in full:

There has been a right to two weeks’ paternity leave since 2002. Does this new right to additional paternity leave affect this existing right?
No, fathers – or the mother’s partner – are still able to take one or two consecutive weeks’ paternity leave on the birth of their child. This is designed to be taken while the mother of the child is still on maternity leave. The new right is in addition to this, and enables the mother to return to work before the child is a year old, and for her partner to take leave instead. 

Is the right to additional paternity leave in force now?
The legislation came into force on 6 April 2010, but it applies only in relation to parents of children expected to be born on or after 3 April 2011 (or in an adoption situation, where the notification of the match with a child is on or after 3 April 2011). That means that it is the parents of babies being conceived from July of this year onwards who will qualify, so employers need to be thinking about putting their policies and procedures in place now. 

Suppose a baby expected on or after 3 April is born early – does that mean the right will not apply?
No, what is important is the expected date of birth. If a baby is expected on 3 April but is actually born in March, the right will still apply. Conversely, if a baby’s due date is prior to 3 April but the baby is actually born on or after 3 April, the right will not apply. 

Which employees qualify for additional paternity leave?
To qualify for additional paternity leave an employee must have 26 weeks’ continuous service as at the end of the 15th week before the expected week of birth, and remain in the employment until the week before the first week of the additional paternity leave. 

The employee must be the child’s father, or be the spouse, partner or civil partner of the child’s mother. The employee must have, or expect to have, the main responsibility – apart from that of the mother – for the child’s upbringing. 

For an individual to qualify, the child’s mother must also meet some conditions. She must be entitled to one or more of maternity leave, statutory maternity pay and maternity allowance, and must have returned to work. 

How much additional paternity leave can an employee take?
An employee can take between two and 26 weeks’ additional paternity leave. It has to be taken in multiples of a week and must be taken as one continuous period. The earliest it can begin is 20 weeks after the birth of the child and it must be completed within one year of the birth. 

What notice does an employee need to give of his intention to take additional paternity leave?
At least eight weeks before he intends to start his additional paternity leave, the employee has to give the employer three things: a leave notice identifying the child’s expected date of birth, the actual date of birth and the start and end dates of the leave; an employee declaration confirming his relationship with the child’s mother and responsibility for the child; and a mother declaration stating, among other things, the date she intends to return to work and that, to her knowledge, the employee is the only person claiming additional paternity leave in respect of the child. 

If it wants, the employer can request that the employee provide a copy of the child’s birth certificate and/or the name and address of the mother’s employer. 

Are there any requirements on the employer to respond to the employee?
Yes. Within 28 days the employer must confirm the relevant dates to the employee in writing. If it fails to do so, this will impact on its ability to prevent the employee returning to work early without giving the required six weeks’ notice. 

What happens if the employee changes his mind about taking the leave?
The employee can cancel or vary the leave by giving six weeks’ notice. Where he gives insufficient notice and it is not reasonably practicable for the employer to accommodate the change in arrangements (for example where the employer has deferred work or taken on cover), the employer can require the employee to take a period of additional paternity leave. This will end no later than six weeks after the employee gave notice of his revised intentions. 

Do keeping-in-touch days apply to additional paternity leave?
Yes, just as with maternity leave, an employee may work up to 10 keeping-in-touch days, without bringing his paternity leave period to an end. 

Do employees made redundant while on additional paternity leave have any special rights?
Yes, employees made redundant while on additional paternity leave are entitled to be offered any suitable alternative work that exists, in the same way that employees made redundant while on maternity or adoption leave are. 


More FAQs on additional paternity leave and pay

From the XpertHR FAQs section


Model paternity policies and documents

Employers will need to ensure that their paternity and maternity leave policies are updated to reflect the new right to additional paternity leave. 

Other documents that employers will find useful include: 

Find out when new model documents relating to the right to additional paternity leave and pay are added - subscribe to the XpertHR policies and documents feed


Detailed guidance on the right to additional paternity leave and pay