My Wife has just given birth, what rights do I have at work?

Paternity Leave

What is meant by Paternity Leave?

Paternity leave is the mail equivalent to maternity leave providing expectant fathers with statutory rights when their partner or spouse is to give birth.

Statutory paternity leave was first introduced in 2003 by the Employment Act 2002 and gives paternity leave to expectant fathers provided that they satisfy various conditions.

Will my employer be aware of this?

Many employers may have their own policy in relation to paternity leave which will be communicated to each of their male employee’s possibly through your contract of employment or alternatively in a policy document available to all employees.

Do I have to accept my employer’s paternity leave policy?

You are entitled to choose the statutory policy prescribed by the Employment Act instead of the policy prescribed by your employer.

Will paternity leave affect my existing statutory holiday allowance?

The statutory paternity leave provided for by the Employment Act will be in addition to your already existing statutory holiday allowance.

Who is entitled to Statutory Paternity Leave?

In order to be eligible for statutory paternity leave you must be an employee and not simply a worker or an independent contractor.


What is meant by employee?

To establish whether an individual is in fact an employee we can use the following tests:

  1. The Control Test – the employer has decided how the work should be carried out. The employee is said to be under the control of the employer.
  2. The Integration Test  – If the employee’s work is considered to be integral to the operation of the business then they will be considered an employee.
  3. Economic Reality Test  –  the employee will not assume any economic risk in their employment.

Employees are entitled to all rights of workers (shown below) but are also entitled to the following rights:


What is meant by a worker?

A worker is someone who has agreed by contract, whether this be written, oral or implied, to perform services for another party and who is not a client or customer of any business of profession undertaken by that individual.

Workers Rights

Workers are entitled to the following but do not have the above rights:

Contract of Employment

An employee must have a contract of employment with their employer to be eligible for paternity leave meaning that most agency workers or sub-contractors will not be eligible for paid paternity leave.

Conditions Required for Paternity Leave

In order to be eligible for paternity leave employees must satisfy the following conditions:

  • You must be the biological father of the child, or are the mother’s husband or partner (including a mother’s partner in a same-sex relationship); and

  • You must have been with your employer for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the beginning of the week when the baby’s due; and

  • Will be fully involved in the child’s upbringing and are taking the time off to support the mother or care for the baby.

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For more information on:

  • Statutory Paternity Pay
  • Duration of Leave
  • How much leave am I able to take?
  • Commencement of Leave
  • When am I able to start my leave?
  • Does this vary if my partner has a multiple birth?
  • Pay entitlement
  • How much am I entitled to be paid?
  • Notice
  • How much notice is required?
  • Adoption
  • Can I take Paternity Leave if I adopt a baby?