Employees may be eligible for statutory paternity leave and pay if they and their partner are:
- having a baby
- adopting a child
- having a baby through a surrogacy arrangement.
They (including same-sex couples) can also take unpaid leave to accompany the person who is pregnant to antenatal appointments, including if they are having the baby through a surrogacy agreement.
A person will continue to be entitled to contractual benefits, apart from their normal salary, and their usual terms and conditions will apply during paternity leave.
Shared parental leave
Introduced in 2014, the uptake of shared parental leave (SPL) remains low in the UK. There is anecdotal evidence that some working men fear discrimination, and that their career prospects may suffer if they pursue SPL. The choices around SPL can sometimes be bound up in gender pay disparity in the workplace and gender dynamics in different settings.
SPL means that parents can share their statutory leave. They can either take leave at the same time or take it in turns to have time off work. Or one parent can use SPL alone to extend statutory leave or take discontinuos leave while their partner returns to work. Qualifying staff are entitled to receive statutory shared parental pay (ShPP) at a set rate or 90% of average weekly earnings (whichever is lower).
What are the main recommendations for employers?
- Ensure employees know that they should tell their employer as soon as possible that they wish to take paternity leave.
- Commitment to the issue needs to include senior staff as well as other people in the organisation.
The person taking paternity leave is legally entitled to return to the same job in which they worked before they went on leave.
- Ensure human resources advisors are aware of the eligibility criteria for SPL.
Ensure employees know how to apply for SPL.
- Ensure managers are aware of policies and rights. Free online training available through ACAS.
- Ensure there is regular communication while your employee is on leave.
BSUH NHS Trust staff should review the hospital’s Parent Leave Policy.