Father’s Day is just around the corner, for those of you who haven’t marked it in your diary in a giant red circle – it’s Sunday 17th June. Make sure you spoil Dads and Carers – because I think they often get left out of any celebrations! Notoriously, did you know that Father’s Day is actually the least important event in retailers’ calendars? No, it’s not the retailers’ fault, it’s as simple as this; consumers don’t spend as much on Dads as they do Mums, Valentines and even Halloween.
While I was thinking about my own preparations for Father’s Day it got me contemplating Dads in the workplace. Becoming a parent is no doubt one of the most exciting things that can happen to someone, if not THE most exciting thing. There’s so much to think about, all that baby shopping, decorating a nursery, obviously names and also the well-being of Mum, so Dad’s needs sometimes may be again, left a bit further down the list! As Dad’s are often a little neglected I thought it would be useful to re-cap on paternity leave and pay policy.
Legislation didn’t come in just to make life easier for new Mums, it came about to allow Dads to have special time to bond with the new addition. Whilst it will take a few years (probably around 15), the new addition will one day thank Dad for all his love and care – with a Father’s Day gift of course!
So what rights do Fathers have?
Fathers and Partners who have at least 26 weeks of service 15 weeks prior to the Expected Date of Confinement (EDC) are entitled to two weeks of paternity leave. This period of time is called Ordinary Paternity Leave and must be taken within 56 days of the birth or adoption of a child. Officially this is paid at the statutory rate (currently £135.45 – subject to qualification), however many companies will pay this at full pay. In addition, new fathers can add annual leave (full pay) or up to 4 weeks parental leave (unpaid) to their ordinary paternity leave period.
In addition, for fathers of babies born after 3rd April 2011, there is an entitlement of up to 26 weeks Additional Paternity Leave (APL). This must be taken between 20 and 52 weeks after the birth and the mother must have returned to work. Any of the mother’s SMP remaining can be transferred to the father. Legislation currently provides for APL to be paid at the statutory rate, but a word of caution here …. Regardless of the policy at the mother’s company, If you provide enhanced Maternity Pay to your female workforce, not providing this to your male workforce could lead to discrimination claims. This is as yet unproven in court, but a case in Spain indicates that this would hold up.
There are several other considerations for employers when developing Paternity Policies:
– Consideration needs to be given to the way in which time off for ante natal appointments such as scans are managed. There is currently no obligation on employers to allow leave for this purpose. The same is the case for consultants’ appointments and ante natal classes. However, allowing time off for women and not for men may increasingly be seen as discriminatory and may impact on motivation and productivity.
– A same sex partner is just as entitled to paternity leave and pay as any other partner. In the case of adoption, the same rules also apply.
– Every year, the Government reviews the weekly amounts of SMP/SAP and SPP so the amounts in this blog are subject to change!
However companies decide to manage paternity and parental issues in their workplace, there is a need for compliance. Companies must document their policy, communicate it and apply it consistently. The policy should respect the law, but also reflect the type of company you are (or want to be). If you are a family orientated organisation, then you may choose to have your policy reflect that. If you want to encourage great employee relations, trust, respect and appreciation for you as an employer, then getting your policies aligned to your culture and ethos is a great way to do it.
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