Guidance

Introduction

To qualify for paternity pay and leave you must be an ’employee’. A ‘worker’ does not qualify for leave but may qualify for pay.

Employees, regardless of hours of work, are entitled to paternity leave if they have, or expect to have, responsibility for their baby’s upbringing and are either or both the biological father of the baby and or the mother’s husband or partner. Same sex partners will be included. In addition, they must have worked continuously for the same employer for 26 weeks ending with the 15th week before the baby is due and from the 15th week before the baby is due up to the date of birth. Paternity leave will be granted if the time is being taken off either to support the mother or to care for the new baby.

Eligible employees can choose to take either one week or two consecutive weeks’ paternity leave. It cannot be taken as odd days or as two separate weeks. Employees can take only one period of leave even if more than one baby is born as a result of the same pregnancy.

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Definition of an Employee

The majority of people in work are employees. An employee works under a contract of employment.  A contract need not be in writing – it exists when you and your employer agree terms and conditions of employment.  It can also be implied from your actions and those of the person you are working for.  Contracts of employment  will normally set out what is expected of the employee. An employee will do the work themselves i.e. they cannot send someone else to do their work.

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Definition of a Worker

This is a broader category than ’employees’ but normally excludes those who are self-employed.  A worker is any individual who works for an employer, whether under a contract of employment, or any other contract where an individual undertakes to do or perform personally any work or services. The following groups of people are likely to be workers but not employees:

  • Most agency workers
  • Short term casual workers
  • Some freelancers

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Entitlement to Statutory Paternity Leave

Statutory Paternity Leave is payable for those who are an employee with a contract of employment and:

  • Is the biological father of the child or the mother’s husband or partner (including same-sex relationships); or the child’s adopter or the partner of the adopter; and
  • Has been with an employer for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the start of the week when the baby is due; or by the end of the week in which they are notified of being matched with a child; and
  • Will be fully involved in the child’s upbringing and
  • Are taking the time off to support the mother or care for the baby

In the case of an adopted child, paternity leave is available to:

  • an employee who is married to, or the civil partner of, the child’s adopter; or
  • the cohabiting partner of the child’s adopter (including same-sex partners).
  • Where a couple adopt a child jointly, assuming they are eligible, one may take adoption leave and the other may take paternity leave. They are entitled to choose for themselves which parent takes which type of leave.

Paternity leave is additional to normal holiday allowances.

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When Leave Starts

Leave cannot start until the baby’s birth. Leave can start on the date of the baby’s birth (whether this is earlier or later than expected); on a date falling after the birth date, which is notified to the employer, or on a chosen date as notified to the employer which falls after the first day of the expected week of childbirth.

To qualify for paternity leave an employee must tell their employer that they intend to take paternity leave by the end of the 15th week before the week the baby is due or, if this is not possible, as soon as is reasonably practicable.

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How Much Paternity Leave Can Be Taken?

As long as all entitlement conditions are met, Paternity Leave of either one or two weeks can be taken.  Odd days off cannot be taken and where two weeks is taken, they must be taken together.

Paternity Leave can start:

  • On the day the baby is born
  • A number of days or weeks after the baby is born
  • From a specific dates after the first day of the week in which the baby is expected to be born

Paternity Leave can start on any day of the week (but not before the baby is born), but has to finish within 56 days of the baby being born or, if the baby’s born before the week it was due, within 56 days of the first day of that week.

Only one period of Paternity Leave is allowed regardless of a multiple birth.

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Company Schemes

Some employers have their own paternity leave arrangements.  Employees may be able to choose the statutory scheme if this is more beneficial – check your contracts of employment.

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Right to Accompany Partner to Prenatal Appointments

The new right for fathers and partners to accompany a partner to prenatal appointments came into force on 1 October 2014.

Part 8 of the Children and Families Act 2014 (CFA 2014) amends the Employment Rights Act 1996 (ERA) to create rights for eligible employees and agency workers to take unpaid time off work to accompany a pregnant woman to two antenatal appointments. It provides for up to a maximum of six and a half hours for each appointment (section 127, CFA 2014). Those who exercise this right will be protected from suffering a detriment or being dismissed in relation to time off to accompany a woman to prenatal appointments.

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Locum reimbursement for parental leave (maternity, paternity & adoption)

Eligibility

When a salaried GP or GP partner is absent from the practice due to a period of parental leave (maternity/paternity/adoption) the practice is eligible to receive funding towards the cost of cover for that GP.

For the purposes of this the GP must be on leave for longer than one week and must be entitled to that leave either under statue, their contract of employment (in the case of salaried GPs), or the partnership agreement or other agreement between the partnership (for GP partners).

Cover for the absent GP can be provided by either an external locum or another GP already employed within the practice.

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Payments

Under the SFE practices are eligible to receive up to a maximum of £1,143.06 per week for the first two weeks and £1,751.52 per week thereafter. If the full cost of the locum is lower than these maximums then the practice will receive the invoiced amount.

Practices should submit costs incurred to their commissioning body at a frequency agreed with the commissioner or within 14 days of the end of the month for which they are claiming reimbursement.

These payments will not be pro-rated in line with the working pattern of the absence GP.

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Time Scales

There are no timescales set out in the SFE for locum reimbursements for parental leave. We would expect such payments to be in line with the length of maternity leave.

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Shared Parental Leave

SPL (Shared parental leave) is a statutory right which provides eligible parents with more flexibility in how they share the care of their child in the first year following birth or adoption.

SPL allows for a maximum of up to 50 weeks’ leave to be shared between parents. They can decide to be off work at the same time or take it in turns to be on leave to look after their child.

This new entitlement was implemented for those eligible parents of babies due, or of children placed for adoption, on or after 5 April 2015.

As it is a flexible arrangement, there are a lot of variables . Please read the BMA guidance for further information about SPL BMA – Shared parental leave

https://www.bma.org.uk/advice/work-life-support/working-parents/shared-parental-leave

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Last Reviewed Date
11/12/2023