What Paternity Leave Rights Do New Dads Have?

Paternity Leave Rights

New parents have lots of things to consider once their baby is born and parental leave is something that needs to be established long before the little bundle of joy arrives. While people may be familiar with the rights of mothers, the rights of fathers might not be as well known.

The lack of knowledge around paternity leave can result in many soon-to-be fathers not understanding what rights they have when it comes to the birth of their child. While there are paternity rights available to fathers, a report from the Women and Equalities Committee found that workplaces policies were unfortunately pushing new dads back into their jobs.

This further results in women being forced to take on childcare duties which can further hinder any attempts being made to tackle the gender pay gap. The aim would be to ensure that fathers receive equal treatment to mothers, which a proposal for rights to be standardised across both self-employed fathers and agency workers.

Awareness is further hindered by a lack of fathers choosing to take up their full paternity leave rights, with research in 2017 from law firm EMW finding that only 8,700 couples taking advantage of the shared parental leave scheme. This meant that only 1% of eligible couples took advantage during April 2016 and March 2017, meaning many fathers missed out on time with their child. EMW suggested that this was because there is a cultural stigma that surrounds men taking time off work.

What Paternity Leave Rights Are Available?

It is important though for fathers to know that they have rights and that they are allowed to take their leave. Celebrity figures such as the Duke of Cambridge have been crucial in showing that men are entitled to leave as well. When Princess Charlotte was born, he took six weeks of unpaid leave to from his job as an air ambulance pilot and began his paternity leave at the end of April for Prince Louis.

The birth of a baby is not the only reason that a father may take paternity leave, as they are also eligible for this if they adopt a child or have a baby through a surrogacy arrangement. An employee is entitled to choose a week or two consecutive weeks of leave according to the government.

This time is the same regardless of how many children they may have and their leave cannot start before the birth of the child. In fact, paternity leave can only begin on the actual birth date or a date that has been agreed a number of days either after the birth or after the expected week of childbirth. Any leave must be finish within 56 days of the birth.

Shared Parental Leave (SPL) and Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) can be eligible for both parents which allows them to share the leave between the two. This means that instead of leave being taken in one go, it can instead be broken into blocks of leave that can be shared between the two with periods of work in-between. It must be taken within the first year of adoption or between the baby’s birth and first birthday.

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Sarah Jubb

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