HR Update - Extending paternity leave

Over the past ten years, there have been many changes in employment law relating to working parents, and in April 2011 additional paternity leave and pay was introduced. Jacqui Mann reports that HR4 Nurseries has not seen a huge increase in requests for additional paternity leave, but says it is important that employers understand the key areas

To qualify for additional statutory paternity pay the person must be employed and must earn at least the lower earnings limit (LEL) for National Insurance contributions in force at the end of the qualifying week. The employee must intend to care for the child during the additional statutory paternity pay period.

The mother must have:

  • returned to work
  • stopped claiming any relevant pay, with at least two weeks of unexpired statutory pay period remaining.

Within 28 days of receiving the request for additional paternity leave, as the employer you may ask for:

  • a copy of the child's birth certificate or adoption matching certificate
  •  the employment details of the mother or adopter who has taken maternity/adoption leave.

The employee must give you this information within 28 days or they may not be able to take the leave. You then need to write to the employee within 28 days, telling them the date when the leave and pay will start and end.

The mother's or adopter's return to work must take place no earlier than two weeks after the child was born or placed for adoption.

The employee must give at least six weeks notice if they wish to change the date of their leave.

RETAINING RIGHTS

During additional paternity leave, all employment terms and conditions are protected. Employees keep their normal employment rights and benefits (excluding wages) throughout all their additional paternity leave. Entitlements to paid holiday accrue in the normal way.

The employee can attend up to ten days work under their contract of employment, as long as you both have agreed for this to happen, and agree on what work is to be done.

You must agree with the employee what work will be carried out on these days and how it will be paid.

Employers are not obliged to offer these days and employees are not obliged to work them.

These are just a few points that you need to be aware of if a member of staff requests additional paternity leave. It's really important that you reply to the employee within the 28 day time period.

Next year, we may see some additional changes to parental leave but we will make sure we keep you up to date.

Jacqui Mann is managing director of HR4Nurseries (www.HR4nurseries.com)

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