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How to understand if you are entitled to Paternity Leave and Pay

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Following the birth of a child or an adoption placement, an Employee who is a father, civil partner or partner of a biological mother or an adopter has a right to Paternity Leave and Pay in certain circumstances, to care for the child or support the mother. Fathers/civil partners/partners who are Workers will not quality for leave but may qualify for pay (see below). Freelancers, unless they are classed as Workers, are not eligible for either Paternity Leave or Pay. This can get a bit complicated so read on...
What you'll need: 
A copy of your Employment Contract or Staff Handbook.
1: 
Employees must satisfy the following conditions in order to qualify for Paternity Leave. They must have or expect to have responsibility for the child’s upbringing; they must be the biological or adopted father of the child, or the mother’s (who is pregnant or adopting) husband or partner/civil partner; they must have worked continuously for their Employer for 26 weeks (ending with the 15th week before the baby is due, or at the week of notification of an adoption match), and have a contract of employment with their Employer.
2: 
Length of paternity leave: You can take up to two consecutive weeks’ Paternity Leave (but you cannot take odd days of less than a week’s duration).
3: 
When you can take your leave - you can choose to start your leave on the day the baby is born or matched for adoption; or on a chosen number of days or weeks after the birth/adoption; or when the baby is expected to be born/adopted. Leave can start on any day of the week after the child’s birth/adoption but must be finished within 56 days (8 weeks) of the baby being born/adopted.
4: 
You must give notice to take your Paternity Leave – where it is related to a child born the Employee must give notice of the dates of Paternity Leave by the 15th week before the week the birth is expected. Where it is related to adoption, the Employee must give notice of the dates of Paternity Leave no later than 7 days after the adoption agency notifies the adopter of a match with the child. You must tell your Employer whether you wish to take one or two weeks’ leave. You can change your mind about the dates of your Paternity Leave as long as you give your Employer 28 days notice of the new start date.
5: 
Statutory Paternity Pay: During their paternity leave, most Employees are entitled to Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP) from their Employers. Statutory Paternity Pay is paid by Employers for up to two consecutive weeks. The rate is £124.88 per week from April 2010. If you earn less than the Lower Earnings Limit (LEL) for National Insurance contributions (currently £97 per week) you are not eligible for SPP but have the right to unpaid paternity leave if you meet the other conditions. ‘Workers’ may be eligible for SPP (not leave) if you meet the other qualifying conditions above.
6: 
The previous Labour Government introduced Additional Paternity Leave and Pay, to be effective for children who are born or adopted with an expected week of birth (or matching) of 3rd April 2011 onwards, and where the mother or the adopter of the child has returned to work. The Conservative/Lib Dem Government have confirmed they will continue to implement these changes although consultation is still needed (so these details below may change).
7: 
Employees are eligible for Additional Paternity Leave if they have 26 weeks of continuous employment with their Employee at the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth (or 26 weeks of continuous employment at the week of an adoption match) AND remain in employment with the Employer until the week before the first week of additional Paternity Leave.
8: 
This will entitle you to another 26 weeks of Paternity Leave and you can choose to take between 2-26 weeks of this. In effect this Additional Paternity Leave is to be used where a mother has forfeited up to 6 months Maternity Leave and her Partner takes up to 6 months Paternity Leave.
9: 
The Additional Paternity Leave can be taken from between 20 weeks after the child is born or adopted and up to one year after the birth/adoption (when the mother’s maternity or adoption leave has come to an end). It must be taken in one continuous period, it cannot be split into separate weeks or days. The Employee must give their Employer at least 8 weeks notice of his/her start and finish dates.
10: 
Employees taking Additional Paternity Leave will be paid if the mother/adopter has ended their period of Statutory Maternity Pay early (i.e. not used all the 39 weeks) and then the Employee taking Additional Paternity Leave will be paid for the remainder of the 39 week period at the normal rate of Statutory Maternity Pay.
Tips: 
If you are not eligible for Paternity Leave or Pay, you can always ask your Employer if you can take some time off, paid or unpaid, for this purpose.
There are no age restrictions to receiving Paternity Leave and Pay.
Your Employer cannot postpone your Paternity Leave if you have given them the proper notice that you are taking it.
Employers may give more generous pay than Statutory Paternity Pay or Additional Paternity Pay.
You are entitled to return to the same job following Paternity Leave
Warnings: 
If your partner has a multiple birth you’re only allowed one period of Paternity leave.
If a child’s father is separated or divorced from, and not living with, the child’s mother and plays little or no part in the child’s upbringing, he will not be entitled to Statutory Paternity Leave.

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