Paternity rights: what you need to know

Gone are the days when men waited outside while the woman gave birth! Most men want to be much more involved in every aspect of birth and their baby's life (well, maybe not every aspect...explosive nappies, anyone?!). But what are your legal rights in the UK?

There are same-sex couple, unmarried couples, surrogacy, separated couples... Add to that the rules around how long you've worked for your employer, rules around when you notify your employer, and it starts to get more than a little bit complicated.

Fear not! We've put together a list of the key things you need to know.

Who is eligible for paternity leave?

  • the father

  • the husband or partner of the mother (or adopter) (this includes same-sex couples)

  • the child’s adopter

  • the intended parent (if you’re having a baby through surrogacy)

HOW LONG DO I HAVE TO HAVE WORKED FOR MY EMPLOYER?

You must have a contract of employment and have been working for the same employer for 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the week your baby is due.

WHAT AM I ENTITLED TO?

You're entitled to:

  • either one or two weeks' paternity leave.

  • £139.58 per week in tax year 2016/17 - or 90% of your average earnings - whichever is lower. Your employer may offer more.

It is your choice whether you take one or two weeks' paternity leave and when you do so, but it must begin:

  • on the day your baby is born; or

  • a number of days or weeks after the birth; or

  • from a specific date after the first day of the week the baby is due.

Shared parental leave

Shared Parental Leave Experiences

Shared Parental Leave Experiences

New parents may now be eligible for Shared Parental Leave for up to 52 weeks after having a baby. Parents can take this leave at the same time or in separate blocks.

For example, a new father could take one-two weeks paternity leave and go back to work. After five months, the mother can go back to work while the father takes two months parental leave. This is becoming more and more popular.

Read this Huffington Post article about how eight new dads found it.

Antenatal appointments

You're entitled to 2 x 6.5 hours off work to attend antenatal appointments and yes, that includes appointments to attend any of our birth preparation sessions! So, if our weekday evening sessions start a bit early for your usual commute home, you're entitled to leave work a bit early so you have time to grab some dinner and get in the hypno-zone! Most employers will be be flexible and many will go above and beyond the statutory limits.

WE'RE HAVING TWINS. DO I GET TWICE AS MUCH?

Afraid not. Whether you're having one or six babies, the entitlement is the same.

CLEAR AS MUD, RIGHT?!

Our best advice is to chat to your employer as soon as possible. That way, you can both plan ahead and come up with a plan you're both happy with.

Read up on it as well so you're well informed.

The UK Government's guidance is great, as is Which's guide to paternity leave and pay.

WHAT'S YOUR EXPERIENCE OF PATERNITY LEAVE?

We'd love to hear from you if your employer has been particularly accommodating, or maybe you've taken the plunge and gone for extended shared leave - how was it for you? Comment below to share your story, warts and all!