What employment rights do working fathers have?

Most working fathers want to participate as much as possible in the care of their children whilst keeping their job. However, it is still the case that some fathers are not aware of employment law and their entitlements.

Working fathers' rights

A prospective father is entitled to request a reasonable amount of time off to care for dependants in an emergency, such as their partner going into labour. The prospective father may request this type of leave no matter how long they have been in service.

The employee should inform the employer that they are taking this time off as soon as possible. The employer does not have to pay the employee for time off to care for dependants, although some employment contracts allow for such payment.

A working father may also apply to their employer for flexible working arrangements. Flexible working includes measures such as flexi time and annualised hours. An employer does not have to grant this request, but they are obliged to give it every consideration.

A father must have been working continuously for twenty-six weeks prior to making the request, and must not make more than one such request within one year. There are other conditions, such as:

  • Having parental responsibility for a child under seventeen years
  • Having parental responsibility for a disabled child under eighteen years
  • Being the foster parent of a child

Paternity leave

Working fathers also have the right to unpaid parental leave, in which they may take up to thirteen weeks off work until their able child is five years old, or until their disabled child is eighteen years old.

In addition, new fathers are entitled to two weeks’ paid paternity leave (Statutory Paternity Pay) after the birth of their baby. This is as of July 2014.

You must give notice in writing to your employer as soon as possible - fifteen weeks before the due date is the standard. The payment is at a standard rate, unless their employment contract makes a more generous provision. If you are earning less than £109 per week, you are not entitled to Statutory Paternity Pay.

If a father’s partner has not used up all their maternity leave, a working father may share this leave entitlement up to a maximum of twenty-six weeks, provided they follow the proper procedure as regards their request. This is known as additional paternity leave, and may be taken when the baby is between twenty weeks and one year old.

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