paternity leave and parental leave Paternity Leave and Parental Leave   What Are You Entitled To?

There are two different types of leave that parents are entitled to take to allow them to care for their children; paternity leave and parental leave. Employees are entitled to take either one week or two consecutive weeks’ ordinary paternity leave (OPL) to enable them to care for the child, or to support the child’s mother or adopter.

Eligibility for Paternity Leave

The leave must be taken within 56 days of a child’s birth or adoption placement. To be eligible the employee must have been continuously employed by the employer for at least 26 weeks as at the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth. In an adoption case it is 26 weeks as at as at the date they are notified that they have been matched with a child.

Since 2011 eligible employees can also take additional paternity leave (APL). This leave must be taken to care for the child and be taken in multiples of complete weeks. The leave can last between 2 and 26 weeks. The period of APL must be taken in a period of time beginning 20 weeks after, and ending 12 months after, the child’s date of birth or placement for adoption. Employees need to give their employer at least 8 weeks’ notice of their decision to take APL and provide evidence of their eligibility and relationship to the child. APL is likely to be abolished in 2015 when the government plans to bring in a new system of Shared Parental Leave.

Subject to complicated eligibility rules employees may be entitled to receive Ordinary Statutory Paternity Pay (OSPP) and Additional  Statutory Paternity Pay (ASPP).

The weekly rate of OSPP ASPP, is the lesser of:

  1. The prescribed rate set by the government each tax year (Currently £136.78)
  2. 90% of the employee’s normal weekly earnings

What is Parental Leave?

Parental leave is unpaid leave available to eligible employees in addition to statutory maternity, paternity and adoption leave. As of 8 March 2013, the total amount of unpaid leave that can be taken is 18 weeks. The right applies in respect of each child the employee has parental responsibility for. That is, an employee with one child may take 18 weeks’ leave but an employee with two children would be entitled to 36 weeks’ leave in total.

The employee must take the parental leave:

  • Before the child’s 5th birthday;
  • Before the 5th anniversary of the date of adoptions placement; or
  • Before the child’s 18th birthday if the child is disabled.

An employee cannot take more than four week’s leave in respect of any individual child during any particular year. The employee must give their employer at least 21 days’ notice of their intention to take parental leave.

To be eligible to take parental leave, an employee must, at the time the leave is to be taken:

  • Have been continuously employed for a period of not less than one year; and
  • Have, or expect to have, responsibility for a child

Employees may bring complaints in the Employment Tribunal in relation to parental and/or paternity leave that, if their employer:

  • Subjects the employee to a detriment for a reason related to paternity or parental leave.
  • Dismissing the employee for a reason related to paternity or parental leave.
  • Unreasonably postponing a requested period of parental leave.
  • Preventing or attempting to prevent the taking of parental leave.

The new system of shared parental leave

parental leave and paternity leave 300x190 Paternity Leave and Parental Leave   What Are You Entitled To?The government announced a new system of statutory parental rights applicable to employees and agency workers will be introduced in 2015. This system will allow parents to share the statutory maternity leave and pay that is currently available only to mothers.  When the new system is introduced, the right for qualifying employees to take two week’s ordinary paid paternity leave will remain but additional paternity leave will be abolished.  On 25 February 2013, the government launched a further consultation on how the scheme should be administered.