An employee has announced that his wife is having a baby.

He has only been working for the organisation for a couple of months. Is he eligible for paternity leave?

You may think that every expectant father is entitled to time off, but in fact, there are a number of eligibility conditions that need to be fulfilled. 

To qualify, the person must:

  • be taking time off to care for the child or to support the child’s mother
  • be an employee (not a worker or a self-employed)
  • have worked for you for a minimum of 26 continuous weeks by the end of the 15th week before the week of the due date
  • be the biological father or be the husband or spouse, civil partner or the partner of the child’s mother
  • be responsible for the upbringing of the child (or have an expectation that they will have this responsibility)
  • have given the required amount of notice
  • not have taken shared parental leave in respect of the same child.

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How much notice does he have to give me?

Ideally, the employee should do so as soon as possible, but no later than the end of the 15th week before the expected week of the child’s birth.

They must notify you of the expected week of the child’s birth, how much leave they have decided to take and when they will commence this leave.

He has told me his wife is expecting twins. Is he entitled to extra paternity leave?

Even if the employee has multiple children, the amount of time of paternity leave remains the same. The employee is still only entitled to up to two weeks of time off.

He has asked us whether paternity leave can start before the birth. Is this permitted? 

No. If the employee wishes to take time off before to prepare for the birth or adoption, they may request another form of leave, for example, annual leave.

In cases of birth, an employee may choose to start their leave from the date of the birth; an agreed number of days after the birth or an agreed number of days after the expected week of childbirth.

In any case, leave must be taken within 56 days of the child’s birth or placement.

The employee has requested to break the leave into odd days. Do we have to agree to this?

It must be taken as one consecutive period of leave, so employees are not permitted to break the leave into odd days. 

Do you have more questions? Contact your Employment Law Adviser.

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