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Dads (and mums) in the know: Understanding your rights to Shared Parental Leave – Stewart Gee, Head of Information and Guidance at Acas

New dad

Stewart Gee heads the team producing written guidance for Acas on the web and in booklet format along with Acas’ training products. Stewart’s team are currently working on guidance for employers and employees on avoiding and dealing with issues of discrimination, and will shortly begin work on guidance in relation to issues associated with atypical working practices.

Stewart Gee
Stewart Gee

With Father’s Day on Sunday, 21st June, working dads or dads to be should take the opportunity to know their rights. Acas, the workplace relations service, has practical guidance for working dads or those about to become a dad, including adoptive fathers to be. Many new dads will want to take time off work to look after their newborns and want to know the rules around paternity leave. 

Employment rights for fathers

A recent change is the right to take Shared Parental Leave (SPL). Working mums and dads with babies that were due after 5th April 2015 can now share up to 50 weeks of parental leave.

Parents are now able to share the pot of leave that was previously there for maternity leave, and can decide to be off work at the same time and / or take it in turns to have periods of leave to look after the child. For instance, at Acas we think one of the most likely patterns of use for the new rules would be where Mum and Dad choose to take leave around the time of their new baby’ s birth.

The new rules allow Dad to take some Shared Parental Leave after his Paternity Leave, with one or two further blocks of leave over the first year of baby’ s life. Both parents have the right to take up to three blocks of leave and could both be on leave at the same time, separately, or indeed they could both be back at work at points during the first year.

Shared Parental Leave process summary

Shared Parental Leave key points:

  • Qualifying mothers and adopters continue to be entitled to Maternity and Adoption rights but they may also be able to choose to end this early and exchange it for Shared Parental Leave and Pay. They and their named partner will then need to decide how they want to share this new entitlement;
  • Two weeks of paid Paternity Leave continues to be available to qualifying fathers and the partner of a mother or adopter. However, Shared Parental Leave has replaced the Additional Paternity Leave entitlement;
  • These regulations came into force on 1st December 2014 and apply to eligible parents where a baby is due, or a child is placed for adoption, on or after 5th April 2015.
  • Acas has produced a range of template letters and an example policy to also help employers get to grips with the new Shared Parental Leave regulations that explain the various stages of the Shared Parental Leave process, such as notification of eligibility, requesting leave, confirmation of leave, and refusal of discontinuous leave.

Acas has produced a range of template letters and an example policy to also help employers get to grips with the new Shared Parental Leave regulations that explain the various stages of the Shared Parental Leave process, such as notification of eligibility, requesting leave, confirmation of leave, and refusal of discontinuous leave.

Paternity leave or pay

If you are a father to be or will share the responsibility with a partner for bringing up a child, you may have the right to Statutory Paternity Leave and Pay. This includes those who are adopting a child.

Paternity leave is available to employees who:

  • have or expect to have responsibility for the child’s upbringing
  • are the biological father of the child or the mother’s husband or partner (including same sex relationships)
  • have worked continuously for their employer for 26 weeks ending with the 15th week before the baby is due or the end of the week in which the child’s adopter is notified of being matched with the child
  • give the correct notice
  • Employees should tell their employer as soon as possible that they want to take paternity leave, but no later than the end of the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth. They should say when the baby is due, if they’re going to take one or two weeks off, and when they expect their paternity leave to start.

Ante-natal appointments

Fathers and partners of pregnant women are entitled to unpaid time off to attend two ante-natal appointments.

There is no legal right to paid time off for antenatal appointments. However, employers may allow this time off with pay under the terms and conditions of employment, or allow employees to take annual leave, swap shifts or make up time.

 

For more information about Shared Parental Leave visit www.acas.org.uk/spl where you can download guidance including, Shared Parental Leave: a good practice guide for employers and employees.

 

http://www.acas.org.uk

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