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Paternity Leave Entitlements

As little as 1% of men use their ‘additional paternity leave’ entitlement according to a recent study.  In 2011 the Government introduced additional paternity leave entitlements in order to provide UK’s employees with a better work/life balance.  Due to recent decisions to change entitlements for working parents, the current system will be abolished in 2015 and replaced by a completely flexible leave system.  Below are a few key points of current paternity leave measures:

Ordinary Paternity Leave

  • A separate entitlement from ‘additional paternity leave’
  • Must have worked for employer continuously for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the baby is due
  • Be employed up to the date of birth
  • Leave must be taken continuously
  • Leave cannot commence before the birth and is for a maximum of 2 weeks ending within 56 days of the birth
  • Statutory weekly rate is £136.78 or 90% of average earnings (whichever is lower) – tax and NI deductible
  • Eligibility extends to employees who are married to, or the civil partner or partner of the child’s mother (responsible for the upbringing of the child)

 Additional Paternity Leave 

  • A separate entitlement from ‘ordinary paternity leave’
  • Must have worked for employer continuously for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the baby is due
  • Still be employed the week before leave or pay starts
  • Leave can start 20 weeks after the birth if partner has returned to work, meaning that mother and father cannot take respective leave periods at the same time – parents would have to use other entitlements if they wanted to be off at the same time, ie. annual or parental leave bearing in mind restrictions
  • Must cease on the child’s 1st birthday
  • Statutory weekly rate is £136.78 or 90% of average earnings (whichever is lower) – tax and NI deductible
  • Eligibility extends to employees who are married to, or the civil partner or partner of the child’s mother (responsible for the upbringing of the child)

Additional paternity leave appears to lack popularity due to the low fixed statutory rate of pay, currently set at £136.78.

Although many companies offer good maternity packages, not so many have considered additional entitlements should the father wish to take an extended period of time off.  In the main, typically men earn more than women and therefore in the majority of cases it is the mother who stays home providing childcare.  Employers are not bound to offer any additional payments in excess of the statutory minimum.

At  the 39 week point after the birth, statutory payments cease and a father on additional paternity leave will receive no pay for the rest of the leave period.  This coincides with the point that mother’s maternity pay would have stopped, if the leave had remained with the mother.

The Government are addressing the paternity leave polices and in 2015 are planning to introduce shared parental leave.  This will allow parents to break up their leave periods to a minimum one week period, which, if they choose can be alternated for a maximum of 50 weeks.

 

Further information can be obtained from www.gov.uk

 

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