Paternity Rights outlines your rights around parental leave.

Paternity Leave and flexible working opportunities


From a workplace point of view, it’s a great time to become a dad. The law changed in 2015 to enable parents to share childcare in the first year of a baby’s life, improving equality and giving parents a more flexible approach to work. This article is a guide for dads about paternity rights at and parental rights at work.

Planning for paternity leave

There are two types of leave for dads. The first is Ordinary Paternity Leave, which gives you a total of two weeks’ leave after baby is born. You can take it any time in the first eight weeks, but you must tell your employer by the 15th week before the baby is due that you are planning to take this leave.

Shared Parental Leave is where dads can take time off to care for baby over a longer period; up to 50 weeks 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, or individually. You can also break it into blocks of leave: you don’t have to take it all in one go.

If you’re planning to take Shared Parental Leave, you must inform your employer with at least eight weeks’ notice.

Statutory Shared Parental Pay

Statutory Shared Parental Pay is £145.18 per week, or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is lower). This is the same as Statutory Maternity Pay.

It is subject to tax and National Insurance deductions. Your employer might choose to enhance the statutory benefit, so do check their policy.

To qualify for Statutory Paternity Leave and Pay you need to have worked for your employer for 26 weeks before the birth or the placement/arrival of your adopted child.

Employment rights

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 to receive a pay rise and protection against dismissal or redundancy in connection with being a parent.

You may also qualify for 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 in a 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.

To qualify you must have been employed by an organisation for over a year and be named as having parental responsibility or be on the birth or adoption certificate of the child. Unpaid parental leave doesn’t apply to foster parents, the self-employed or agency workers/contractors.

In emergencies, employees can usually get a reasonable amount of time off for family and dependants. Your employer might pay you for time off to look after dependants, but they don’t have to. You can also request ‘compassionate leave’ which can be paid or unpaid.

For more details about parental rights, visit

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