Does an employee have the right to return to the same job after paternity leave?
Yes, an employee has the right to return to the same job after paternity leave, although there can be some limitation on the right where the employee takes a period of paternity leave consecutively with other statutory family-related leave entitlements.
In the straightforward case where the employee returns to work after one or two weeks of paternity leave, the employee is entitled to return to the job in which they were employed immediately before the absence. The employee is entitled to the seniority, pension rights and similar rights that they would have had, and to terms and conditions no less favourable than would have applied if they had not been absent.
The right to return to the same job also applies where the employee returns to work after taking a period of paternity leave consecutive with a period of ordinary parental leave of four weeks or less or with any period of statutory leave that, when added to any other periods of statutory leave (excluding ordinary parental leave) taken in relation to the same child, means that the total amount of statutory leave taken in relation to that child totals 26 weeks or less.
If the employee returns after a period of paternity leave that does not fall into the above description, they are still entitled to return to the job in which they were employed before the absence, unless it is not reasonably practicable for the employer to permit the employee to return to that job, in which case the employee is entitled to another job that is both suitable and appropriate for them in the circumstances, on no less favourable terms. This may be the case, for example, if the employee returns after a period of paternity leave that followed on immediately from a period of adoption leave of more than 26 weeks, in relation to a different child.