Paternity leave is the right for a father, partner of a pregnant woman, surrogate parent or someone who has been matched with a child by an adoption agency, with six month's service as an employee, to take up to two weeks' leave in one block. The leave must be taken within 56 days of the birth of a child or within 56 days of the expected date of birth if the child is born early (ordinary paternity leave or OPL) and, in some cases, if the child is born before 5 April 2015 (or in the case of adoption if the child is placed before 5 April 2015),to take up to a further 26 weeks' leave (additional paternity leave or APL).
Entitlement to APL depends on the child's mother or adopter having returned to work with some maternity or adoption leave entitlement unused. In effect, the mother's unused maternity leave (or adopter's unused adoption leave) can be taken by the father as APL.
After 4 April 2015 an employee will no longer be entitled to APL, but may have the right to take shared parental leave.
Expectant fathers, or partners of expectant mothers (and surrogate parents from 6 April 2015) are also entitled to unpaid time off work to attend up to two antenatal appointments (up to a maximum of six and a half hours each) regardless of the length of time they have worked for an employer.
Employees who earn more than a set (low) amount which changes periodically are entitled to statutory paternity pay (SPP) at a fixed statutory rate during OPL (£140.98 a week or 90% of the average weekly earnings, whichever is lower). Whether they receive SPP during APL depends on when exactly the mother or adopter returned to work (ie whether they had entitlement to statutory maternity or adoption pay remaining).
Employees must not be dismissed or subjected to detriment for taking or requesting paternity leave. Consider introducing a paternity policy which will help managers and staff to understand the paternity leave rights and obligations, and ensure that the policy includes references to your Data protection policy and Employee privacy notice - a statement describing how you collect, use, retain and disclose personal information. For further information, read Data protection and employees.