If you are a working father or are about to become one, do you know your
employment rights? It’s important to be aware of what you’re entitled to as a parent – and also where you stand if your employer is planning changes that will affect you. Read on for a look at employment rights for dads.
Fathers and partners of pregnant women are entitled to unpaid time off to attend two ante-natal appointments during the pregnancy. These could be medical visits or parenting classes.
If you’re adopting, you can have time off for adoption appointments; surrogate parents are also allowed unpaid time off for two antenatal visits.
Ordinary Paternity Leave gives dads a total of two weeks’ leave after your baby is born. You can take it any time in the first eight weeks, but you must tell your employer at least 15 weeks before the due date that you are planning to take this leave.
To qualify for Paternity Leave you must have worked continuously for your employer for 26 weeks by the 15th week before the baby is due. See more information on paternity leave.
Shared Parental Leave
With Shared Parental Leave dads can take time off to care for the baby just as mums traditionally did with maternity leave. You can take up to 50 weeks’ leave following the birth (or adoption). Between you and your partner, you will qualify for 37 weeks of Statutory Shared Parental Pay.
You can either take this leave at the same time as your partner or individually.
You can also break it into blocks of leave so as not to take it all in one go.
To take Shared Parental Leave you must give your employer at least eight weeks’ notice. Find our more on Shared Parental Leave.
Statutory Shared Parental Pay
Statutory Shared Parental Pay is the same as Statutory Maternity Pay – currently £145.18 per week, or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is lower).
It is subject to tax and National Insurance deductions.
Your employer might choose to enhance the statutory benefit – check the policy for details. To qualify you must have worked for your employer for 26 weeks before the birth or adoption.
Your rights on Shared Parental Leave
Dads on Shared Parental Leave have the same rights as mothers on maternity leave. These include the continuation of your annual leave entitlement, your eligibility for a pay rise, and protection against dismissal or redundancy in connection with being a parent.
Unpaid parental leave
Parents can take up to 18 weeks’ leave for each child up to their 18th birthday, including up to four weeks of unpaid leave per year, per child.
This leave must be taken in whole weeks rather than individual days – unless your employer agrees otherwise or if your child is disabled.
You must have been employed by your organisation for over a year and be able to prove you have parental responsibility. Explore more about unpaid leave.
Applying for flexible working
As an employee and parent, you have the legal right to apply for flexible working and your application must be duly considered – although that doesn’t mean it will be accepted.
You must have worked for the same employer for 26 weeks to make an application. It involves writing to your manager to state:
That this is a statutory request
How you want to work flexibly
When you want to start
How flexible working might affect the business and how this could be managed
Whether or not you’ve applied before and when.
Your employer has to respond to the request within three months. If agreed, your contract will change accordingly. If not, you should receive a letter detailing the business reasons why.
Think hard about the form of flexible working that will work best for you – but also for your employer. It might involve reduced or compressed hours, remote working, job sharing or another approach. Read more on flexible working.
As a dad, redundancy can seem a frightening threat. No parent responsible for a family wants to be faced with a gap in salary. Yet for many dads, redundancy can bring new opportunity – whether through escaping a job you’re bored with, or from a redundancy payment that’s a boost for your family.
You have various fundamental rights on being made redundant:
Fair selection for redundancy
A notice period
Consultation with your employer
The option to move into a new job
Time off for jobseeking.
You can’t be selected for redundancy for any reason connected with your age, gender, faith, family status or health. If you can demonstrate that this is the reason you were chosen, you could have a case for unfair dismissal.
Common, fair methods used to select people for redundancy are to choose the newest employees; to ask people to take voluntary redundancy or to examine appraisals, skills, experience or qualifications.
Anyone at risk of redundancy has the right to consultation, where your employer explains the reasons for redundancy, why you have been, selected and whether alternative roles are available.
Usually you’re entitled to redundancy pay if you’ve been with a company for two years or more. Different rates apply based on your age. There’s no tax on redundancy pay up to a total of £30,000.
You won’t be entitled to redundancy pay if your employer offers you an alternative role and you decline. You will also be given notice of the end of your employment – although your employer may choose to pay you in place of notice, which means you leave immediately but are paid in full until the end of your notice period.
Companies are changing all the time and restructures or changes to job roles are fairly commonplace. The first thing to do in any times of uncertainty at work is to look at your contract.
Employers can’t make changes to things stated in your contract – such as your working hours, key duties, holiday entitlement or basic pay – without consulting with you.
You have the right to decline the changes – but you should seek legal advice so that you know where you stand. If the work you do is still required by the company, but you don’t agree to the changes, you can legally be dismissed. This would not be a redundancy situation, so you would only receive the normal notice period and no additional payment.
Employers do usually consult with staff about structural changes. This way they comply with their legal obligations and ensure staff understand the situation properly.
Rights for dads working shifts
Your employer might seek to change your hours or working days – which may or may not work in your favour. Again, it’s important to understand whether your contract allows the proposed change.
If the contract just sets out the minimum number of hours you’re required to work, which is common in shift work contracts, generally your employer can change your shift patterns – as long as you’re still working the contracted number of hours.
But if your total hours increase or decrease, this is a change to your contract. In this case the employer must give you notice of the change and consult with you on the details. You can either accept or reject the change.
If you reject it there will usually be ongoing negotiation to reach agreement on both sides. Read more about your rights as a shift worker.
Employers must legally treat everyone fairly, and treating a father differently from other employees could be discrimination.
For example, if changes to shift patterns mean a father is now unable to collect his children from school, the employer has to be able to justify its decision by showing that it couldn’t do what it needs to in a less discriminatory way.
There are of course business reasons that might mean this is the only option available, in which case this isn’t discriminatory.
Often you can resolve this kind of issue with an informal discussion with your manager. But if your employer is refusing to have a discussion and you feel that the shift change is unjustified, it’s worth seeking legal advice.