Top tips for a smooth paternity leave

Just like many working fathers, Prince William will be looking forward to the two weeks with Kate and his beautiful new baby boy.

So, here’s my top tips to managing a smooth paternity leave

Do dad’s have the right to paid time off when the baby is born?

New dads have to be the biological father, be married, cohabiting or in an enduring family relationship with the mum-to be and employed by the company for 41 weeks before the baby’s due date. Tick all those boxes and the answer is yes, and new dads can move on to worrying about the next issue…

The timing of your big news

As a new dad you will be excited and probably dying to tell folks at work your fantastic news, well you can tell your employer at any time but not less than 15 weeks before the baby is due. . Easy – except you also need to remember to fill in the self certificate declaring all the above 28 days before you plan to take the leave itself.  As an employer, you just need to know whether they are taking one or two of their weeks, and you need to know a minimum of 15 weeks before the due date to be able to make plans.  It is to be noted that the dad-to-be will be able to change their mind about the date on which they want their leave to start but not about the length of leave they wish to take – here’s the link to the notification form the dad-to-be must complete to ask for and be entitled to leave  http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/forms/sc3.pdf

As an aside, and just to clarify, dad-to-be is not ‘entitled’ to time off to support mum-to-be with antenatal care.  That is something as a company you could decide to provide but there is no right to accompany their partners to the parent craft classes, the scans or the aqua natal exercise sessions as one chap I dealt with in the ‘Corporate World’ insisted he do! Swimming with a bunch of pregnant ladies? A little odd I thought?

How long can the new dad take off work?

The statutory entitlement is that eligible employees will be entitled to choose to take either one week or two consecutive weeks’ paternity leave.  It cannot be taken as odd days or two separate weeks though and must be taken within 56 days of the baby being born.

The dad-to-be (now new dad) could add on holidays at the company’s discretion, or may elect to add either Additional Paternity leave (where he swaps some of the new mum’s entitlement and takes it instead paid at statutory rates) or have up to four weeks parental leave which is unpaid.  It’s unlikely he will do either as recent figures show less than 1% of fathers are taking advantage of additional paternity leave but you the business owner and employer, should be prepared in case your new dad is that 1%.

Each option is subject to the usual rules of applying and acceptance by the company and again there is declaration form from the government to assist ‘HMRC Additional Statutory Paternity Pay and Additional Paternity Leave – Becoming a Parent – SC7’

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/forms/sc7.pdf

Given there are a whole host of timelines and expectations in terms of notifications it is important to share these as soon as possible.

What are new dad’s rights during leave?

Much like with maternity leave, the contract of employment continues and your employee is entitled to receive all their contractual benefits, except for salary.  Any benefits in kind (such as life assurance, private medical insurance, permanent health insurance, private use of a company car or laptop and gym membership) will continue; annual leave entitlements will continue to accrue and pension contributions will continue to be made.  Salary will be replaced by statutory paternity pay (SPP) if the employee is eligible to receive it, or additional statutory paternity pay (ASPP) if he has swapped some of new mum’s leave for his. If taking the additional statutory paternity leave, the new dad will be able to keep his hand in at work by using up to 10 of his Keeping In Touch days (KITS days).  He gets full pay for that day and doesn’t lose any of his paternity pay.

And his rights upon return?

He has the right to return to the job in which he was employed before going on leave.

So, our future King William has shown himself already to be the hands-on dad we suspected he would be by taking his paternity leave and I hope this will encourage may more men to follow suit. With that in mind, I hope you feel a little better prepared to support and guide your dad-to-be or if you are he, you have a better understanding?

For more help and advice about paternity issues contact us at www.threedomsolutions.co.uk   or follow us on twitter @3domSolutions

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