Paternity leave has changed enormously over the last few years to the point where it could be beneficial for many families to consider this in place of more traditional maternity leave following the birth or adoption of a new child. There may be many different situations where paternity leave makes sense, given your family circumstances, but the rules surrounding how and when it can be taken are fairly rigid, so make sure that you have planned in advance and are certain that this is how you wish to proceed.
Pay throughout paternity leave is capped at a little under £140 per week. Ordinary paternity leave may be taken for 1 or 2 weeks and must be taken within 56 days of the birth or adoption of a new child. Additional paternity leave is the newer and more flexible arrangement whereby you can take between 2 and 26 weeks off, depending on how much maternity leave your partner has taken.
In order to qualify you must be employed, so there is no entitlement for self-employed workers, and you are taxed and must pay National Insurance on top of the pay. You must also give your employer a minimum amount of notice and have been employed for a qualifying time period.
Find out more detail on paternity leave at the government website.
The law is always changing and new legislation comes in often without us noticing, so when something changes that effects time off with your children, it's worth making sure everyone knows about it! In January the Government made some changes to paternity leave which means that fathers can take up to six months off work as paternity leave.
The new legislation gives Dads the option to stay at home and be the primary child carer while the mother returns to work and it is applicable for babies born after 3 April 2011. It will mean that Dads can have up to three months, paid paternity leave and that they can in addition take a further three months of unpaid paternity leave. That is brilliant for all Dads who are keen to share in the workload and care of new babies. This change will suit families where the Mum wants to go back to work because she might be earning a bigger salary than the father.
This is such a positive move to promote a new and modern approach to family life as new mothers as well as fathers can decide to spend so much more time with their little babies than if they were forced back to work. Naturally, it's not going to be as financially enticing as maternity leave, the paternity leave wage is only for a short period and is unlikely to be as high as an actual wage, but it still gives mothers and fathers an option.
As election fever grips the UK, the various political parties are suggesting more changes that they will make to maternity and paternity rights - there's no telling where we'll be in a few years from now!
What rights do new Fathers have?
Paternity Leave: available if you are an employee and are taking the time off to support the mother and care for the child. You must be the biological father, child's adopter, husband or partner of the mother or the child's adopter. Dads currently get 2 weeks paternity leave - but this will change for babies born from next year when 3 months will be the legal maximum with an option to extend with unpaid leave for a further 3 months.
Paternity Pay: currently £124.88 per week or 90% of your average weekly salary if it's less than this.
Time off for anti-natal appointments: are not allowed unless you have a particularly helpful employer. It's worth asking!
Time off to help out after the paternity leave period has been used: you'll have to take unpaid leave or holiday but it's worth asking as many employers are flexible and do try to support new families.
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