Paternity leave guidance

This guidance was last updated on January 2015

It is essential to read all the guidance in this section to ensure that the employee and their department are aware of all the provisions of the Paternity Leave and Pay scheme, especially those relating to contractual entitlements.

The provisions under this policy will also be applicable to eligible intended parents of a child born through a surrogacy arrangement, who will be subject to a Parental Order.

Overview of paternity leave

Paternity leave is an entitlement to time off that may be taken by the biological father or the mother's partner (regardless of gender or marital status) following the birth or adoption of their child. Paternity leave is intended to support parents in the early stages of a child's life/adoption.

All eligible employees may be able to take one or two weeks' Ordinary Paternity Leave (OPL), which may be available at full pay. Paternity leave must be taken in the first 56 days following the birth or adoption of a child.

Employees may also be eligible for the Shared Parental Leave (SPL) scheme (which superseded Additional Paternity leave in 2015).

Employees also have the right to request flexible working (ie a change to their hours, times or place of work). Parents may also have a separate entitlement to Parental Leave which is a period of unpaid leave.

Qualifying for paternity leave and pay

In all cases the employee must have, or expect to have, the main responsibility (apart from the birth mother/adopter) for bringing up the child, and intend to take time off to look after the child.

To be eligible for paternity leave an employee must:

  • have been employed by the University, as an employee, for at least 26 weeks by the end of the qualifying week (for adoptions, this is the week in which the adoptive parents receive notification that they are matched with a child); and
  • continue to be employed by the University up to the birth/adoption of the child; and
  • give the correct notice to their department (see below).

In order to qualify for statutory paternity pay an employee must earn a salary equivalent to the Lower Earnings Limit (LEL) or more (an amount set by the government) a week.

If an employee meets all of the above criteria and their contract of employment will continue for the whole period of the planned leave, they will qualify for the University’s contractual paternity pay scheme, under which an employee is entitled to receive up to two weeks’ pay paid at their normal full-rate of pay.

Notice requirements

An employee intending to take paternity leave must tell their department at the latest during the qualifying week. The Paternity Leave Plan (found on the right-hand side) should be completed and returned to the Departmental Administrator (or equivalent) in good time. If that is not possible (for example if the baby is born prematurely), then the employee should notify their department as soon as is reasonably practicable. The Plan should include the following confirmations:

(i) that the employee's partner is pregnant, or is due to adopt a child;
(ii) the date of the EWC or of adoption; and
(iii) when the employee wants to start OPL. This can be noted as 'the date of birth' or the 'date of placement' or a specified number of days after the birth/adoption; and
(iv) that they meet all the eligibility criteria.

If the employee subsequently decides that they wish to change the date on which the leave and pay begins they should give their department at least 28 days' notice of the new date, or as much notice as is reasonably practicable.

In the event that the baby is born early the notice periods may be waived (see below notes on miscarriage and still birth).

Once the birth or placement has occurred, the employee should also inform their department of the actual date of birth or placement, as soon as is reasonably practicable.

Time off for antenatal appointments

Prospective fathers (or a mother’s/adoptive parent's partner) are entitled to unpaid time off to attend up to two antenatal appointments.

Keeping in touch

During any paternity leave period, the department may make reasonable contact with the employee and, in the same way, the employee may make contact with their department. The frequency and nature of the contact will depend on a number of factors, such as the length of leave and the nature of the work. Departments and their employees will find it helpful, before paternity leave starts, to discuss arrangements for staying in touch. This might include agreements on the way in which contact will happen, how often and who will initiate the contact. It might also cover the reasons for making contact and the types of issues that might be discussed.

The employing department should, in any event, keep their employees informed of any information relating to their employment that they would normally be made aware of if they were working.

Employment benefits during paternity leave

During the whole period of paternity leave the employee is entitled to receive all their contractual benefits with the exception of remuneration. This includes all non-cash benefits such as childcare vouchers.

Contractual annual leave (including bank holidays and fixed closure days) will accrue throughout the full period of paternity leave.

Entitlement to OPL if employee’s partner has a miscarriage or child is stillborn

In the sad event of a child being stillborn after the mother had reached her 24th week of pregnancy the employee is still entitled to OPL and OPLP provided they meet the eligibility criteria. If the still birth or miscarriage occurs before the 24th week, OPL and OPLP is not available, but departments should consider granting compassionate leave.

Further information

If an employee's personal situation is not covered by this guidance they should contact their Departmental Administrator (or equivalent) for further information in the first instance.