Being a dad extends well above and beyond one particular day and as any dad will know, along with the rewards of having children comes a lifetime of duty and responsibility. It is the job of both parents to ensure that this responsibility is taken seriously and fostered in the best interests of their children. But what are your legal rights and entitlements when it comes to paternity leave? H Mc Partland & Sons solicitors outline the most important facts to know about paternity leave in Northern Ireland.
To qualify for Statutory Paternity Pay, all of the following must apply:
- must have or expect to have responsibility for the child’s upbringing
- must be the biological father or adopter of the child or be the mother’s (or adopter’s) husband, partner or civil partner
- have worked continuously for their employer for 26 weeks ending with the 15th week before the baby is due or the end of the week in which the child’s adopter is notified of being matched with the child can choose to take either one week or two consecutive weeks’ paid paternity leave (not odd days).
- must be earning an average of at least £116 a week (before tax)
Paternity leave must be completed:
- within 56 days of the actual date of birth of the child, or
- if the child is born early, within the period from the actual date of birth up to 56 days after the first day of the week in which the birth was expected.
Statutory Paternity Pay and your pension contributions
If you’re employed, you can get Statutory Paternity Pay for one or two consecutive weeks. Your employer is responsible for paying your Paternity Pay. Additionally, if your employer contributes to an occupational pension scheme they must continue their usual contributions for the whole time you’re on paid paternity leave. However, if you normally make contributions to your pension, you should continue paying, based on how much Paternity Pay you’re getting.
Returning to the same job
It is unlawful for your employer to dismiss you or treat you unfairly because you took Paternity Leave or asked to take Paternity Leave. At the end of your paternity leave, you have the right to return to the same job, employment terms and conditions.
Equally, you should be treated the same as any other employee if a redundancy arises while you are on Paternity Leave. This includes being consulted about the redundancy and being considered for other jobs. You are also entitled to benefit from any general improvements to the rate of pay or other terms and conditions introduced while you were away.
For whatever reason, if you choose not to return to work, you should give the notice detailed in your employment contract. You do not have to repay Statutory Paternity Pay if you don’t return to work.
Parental leave after Paternity Leave and flexible working
If you need more time off to look after your child, you may be able to take parental leave. You can take some parental leave without impacting your right to return to work.
All employees who have been working continuously for 26 weeks are entitled to request a flexible working pattern. This can help you balance work with caring for your child. Your employer must consider your request and respond to you in writing.
Allow the experienced team at H McPartland & Sons to defend and protect your rights as a dad.
Our solicitors in Lurgan and Lisburn are dedicated to providing you with first class legal assistance and have many years of experience in negotiating agreements and settlements to the satisfaction of our clients. Contact our Lurgan or Lisburn Offices today for advice or to arrange a meeting.