Is the mother obliged to return to work before taking her full 52-week maternity leave entitlement for the father to be able to take additional paternity leave?

NOTE: The right to additional paternity leave and pay is available only to parents of children who were due on or before 4 April 2015, or adoptive parents of children placed for adoption (or in the case of overseas adoptions whose child enters Great Britain) on or before 4 April 2015. Additional paternity leave is replaced by shared parental leave.

No. The mother must return to work for the father to be able to take additional paternity leave, but there is no requirement for her to have any of her maternity leave entitlement remaining.

Additional paternity leave can be taken during the period beginning 20 weeks after the birth and ending 12 months after the birth. The mother can choose to begin her statutory maternity leave period up to 11 weeks before the expected week of childbirth. Therefore, the mother could take her full entitlement to 52 weeks' maternity leave and there would still be 11 weeks remaining for the father to take as additional paternity leave before the child's first birthday.