An employer’s guide to paternity leave

Read BrightHR’s advice for supporting the new parents on your team, learn the rules on statutory paternity leave, and make sure you comply with the latest employment law…

First published on Monday, Jul 10, 2023

Last updated on Wednesday, Jul 05, 2023

4 min read

Read BrightHR’s advice for supporting new parents on your team, learn the rules on statutory paternity leave, and make sure you comply with the latest employment law…

Starting a family is an exciting time filled with change. Staying up-to-date with the right paternity leave laws is not only your legal responsibility but supporting new parents with their new dual role will help your relationship with your staff.

So, what rules do you need to follow for new parents?

Let’s start with eligibility...

Eligibility for paternity leave

Your employee is entitled to paternity leave if:

  • They have been continuously employed for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth.
  • And in the case of adoption, they have been employed for at least 26 weeks going into the week the adopter has been matched with a child.

Your employee must be one or both of the following:

  • The father of the child.
  • Married to or the partner of the child’s mother.
  • The adopter or the partner of or civil partner of the adopter.
  • The intended parent (if your employee is having a baby through surrogacy).

Bear in mind, employees must give you notice of their intention to take paternity leave and should put it into writing if you ask.

So, now you know who is entitled to paternity leave but how long will your employees be off for?

Paternity leave entitlement

Currently, paternity leave in the UK is for a maximum of 2 weeks and can only be taken from the date of the child’s birth, within 56 days of this or, where the child is born earlier than the expected week, 56 days after that.

A recent study found that the UK has the least generous paternity leave rights in Europe—quite a shocking statistic! And according to a recent poll, almost a third of fathers say they took no paternity leave at all after their last child was born.

This might be a case of new fathers not knowing how much they’re entitled to or the rules on when they can take leave. Because of this, it’s important to be as supportive as you possibly can, offer accurate and informative policies to guide your staff and encourage a work culture that embraces parental leave.

Returning to work after paternity leave

Coming back from any kind of leave is daunting. We’ve all been there, even after one week’s holiday—it can be nerve-wracking to pick up where you left off!

To make the transition as easy as possible for your staff you may want to consider accommodations to help them acclimatise to their new dual role as a working parent.

For example, doing everything you can to adjust your employee’s schedule, such as hybrid or flexible working, or offering term-time working options, can help improve their work and home life balance. And not only will this support their own workload management, but it will help their ability to get back up and running smoothly again after leave.

The UK Government recently announced it will move forward with new changes to paternity leave this week. Read this week’s HR Heartbeat to stay on the pulse of the latest changes in employment law.

1) ‘Woefully inadequate’: UK fathers on why they need more paternity leave | Maternity & paternity rights | The Guardian

Looking for more in-depth paternity leave advice? Talk to our experts

Our expert employment law specialists are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer your questions—even the complex ones! Plus, as BrightAdvice is unlimited, you can call as many times as you like.

Speak to your BrightAdvice team today on 0844 728 0180.

Not a BrightAdvice customer? Discover more about our expert advice line.

Share this article