A man sits at a desk holding a baby in one arm and a sheet of paper in the other. There is a laptop on the desk in front of him.
Image: © dusanpetkovic1/Stock.adobe.com

What employers need to know about paternity leave

27 Jul 2023

BrightHR’s Alan Price advises employers on the protocols of paternity leave in the UK and how to support employees in need of it.

Starting a family is an exciting time filled with change. Staying up to date with the right paternity leave laws is not only your legal responsibility but supporting new parents with their new dual role will help your relationship with your staff.

So, what rules do you need to follow for new parents?

Eligibility for paternity leave

Your employee is entitled to paternity leave if:

  • They have been continuously employed for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth.
  • And in the case of adoption, they have been employed for at least 26 weeks going into the week the adopter has been matched with a child.

Your employee must be one or both of the following:

  • The father of the child.
  • Married to or the partner of the child’s mother.
  • The adopter or the partner of or civil partner of the adopter.
  • The intended parent (if your employee is having a baby through surrogacy).

Bear in mind, employees must give you notice of their intention to take paternity leave and should put it into writing if you ask.

So, now you know who is entitled to paternity leave but how long will your employees be off for?

Click here to go to the BrightHR website.

Paternity leave entitlement

Currently, paternity leave in the UK is for a maximum of two weeks and can only be taken from the date of the child’s birth, within 56 days of this or, where the child is born earlier than the expected week, 56 days after that.

A recent study found that the UK has the least generous paternity leave rights in Europe – quite a shocking statistic! And according to a recent poll, almost a third of fathers say they took no paternity leave at all after their last child was born.

This might be a case of new fathers not knowing how much they’re entitled to or the rules on when they can take leave. Because of this, it’s important to be as supportive as you possibly can, offer accurate and informative policies to guide your staff and encourage a work culture that embraces parental leave.

Returning to work after paternity leave

Coming back from any kind of leave is daunting. We’ve all been there, even after one week’s holiday – it can be nerve-wracking to pick up where you left off!

To make the transition as easy as possible for your staff, you may want to consider accommodations to help them acclimatise to their new dual role as a working parent.

For example, doing everything you can to adjust your employee’s schedule, such as hybrid or flexible working, or offering term-time working options, can help improve their work and home life balance. And not only will this support their own workload management, but it will help their ability to get back up and running smoothly again after leave.

By Alan Price

Alan Price is the CEO at BrightHR and COO at the Peninsula Group. A version of this article was previously published on the BrightHR blog.

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