Working parents | Paternity leave entitlement in the UK: FAQs

Paternity leave entitlement in the UK: FAQs

Is your business going through a baby boom? With the April update, paternity leave is changing. Are you informed of the recent legislation? Read Moorepay’s advice on paternity leave FAQs below.

Paternity leave is an optional leave of absence that partners may take to bond with their new child. It’s essential that you, as a business, know your responsibilities. Although the word ‘paternity’ itself refers to men, Statutory Paternity Leave and Pay is available to all eligible employees regardless of gender.

How much paternity leave are employees entitled to in the UK?

Employees with 26 weeks’ continuous service and ongoing employment are entitled to Statutory Paternity Leave and Pay if their partner is having a baby, including through surrogacy, or if they are the secondary adopter of a child. The entitlement is 1 or 2 weeks of paternity leave, which should be taken in a block of 1 week or 2 weeks within 56 days of the birth or placement.

However, in April 2024, this changes so that paternity leave can be taken in separate one-week blocks at any time in the 52 weeks after the birth or placement. Workers who can’t get Statutory Paternity Leave may be entitled to Statutory Paternity Pay to cover a non-working period.

How much notice do you have to give for paternity leave?

Currently, if you wish to take paternity leave, you should give notice 15 weeks before the expected week of childbirth (EWC) or placement of the adopted child. However, from April 2024, this changes to just 28 days’ notice.

What is the rate of pay for paternity pay?

Ordinary Statutory Paternity Pay rate is calculated at £172.48 per week, or 90% of your employee’s average weekly earnings (whichever is lower). In addition to this Statutory Paternity Pay you will need to pay your employee more than the statutory minimum if this is detailed in their employment contract.

In April 2024, this rises to £184.03. The amount increases in April each year. Learn more about the legislation here.

Who pays the paternity pay?

Employers are responsible for paying their employees on paternity leave. Employees should be aware that they will be paid paternity pay in the same manner as their normal wages, so their payments will have tax and national insurance deducted in the usual way.

If you’re struggling to calculate maternity and paternity leave for your employees, you can use the government’s maternity, adoption and paternity calculator for employers.

Where to file paternity leave?

As an employer, you can usually reclaim 92% of employees’ Statutory Maternity (SMP), Paternity, Adoption, Parental Bereavement and Shared Parental Pay.

There is further relief for Small Employers, who can reclaim 103% if their business qualifies for Small Employers’ Relief. You can find more information on gov.uk.

Employers can calculate how much they can reclaim through their payroll software. For businesses to reclaim these payments, they should be included in an Employer Payment Summary (EPS) to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

How do I calculate paternity leave with bank holidays in it?

Bank holidays being included in paternity leave entitlements will depend entirely on whether the bank holiday forms part of your employee’s statutory holiday entitlement under the Working Time Regulations 1998 (SI 1998/1833).

Where an employer grants employees the minimum holiday entitlement under the regulations, a bank holiday that occurs during the employee’s period of paternity leave will form part of the employee’s statutory holiday entitlement. This means that a day off in lieu must be granted.

However, if the employer grants paid time off on bank holidays, in addition to the statutory minimum, then the employee’s potential right to a compensatory day off, or pay in lieu in respect of a bank holiday, will depend on the terms of the contract of employment or any policy on the matter that forms part of the contract. It may also be that a right to time off or pay in lieu for bank holidays exists implicitly as a result of custom and practice, even if it is not written down in any company documentation.

When does paternity leave start and end?

The earliest Paternity Leave can start is on the date of the child’s birth or adoption. It may be started later than this. However, paternity leave must end within 56 days of the birth. However, where the child’s birth is on or after 6th April 2024, paternity leave may be taken in separate one-week blocks at any time in the 52 weeks after the birth or placement.

Is there such thing as unpaid paternity leave?

Some employers provide contractual entitlements to periods of leave, paid or unpaid. These should be detailed in the contract of employment and cannot be less favourable than the statutory entitlement.

All parents are entitled to take a total of 18 weeks’ leave for each child up to the child’s 18th birthday. This leave, which must generally be taken in whole-week blocks, is unpaid and known as Parental Leave.

If an employee or worker does not qualify for either SPL or SPP, it’s good practice to be flexible about them taking paid holiday at this time.

What is shared parental leave?

Shared Parental Leave (SPL) was introduced in 2015 by the government and allows eligible parents to split the 52 weeks that is available as maternity leave or primary adoption leave. This replaces Additional Paternity Leave. The government introduced this initiative to make it easier for new parents to balance their work and family lives. Read more about what shared parental leave is here.

Looking for further advice that impacts maternity and paternity pay? Download Moorepay’s Employment Law Guide.

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