Parental Rights


Statutory paternity leave is a form of leave that enables parents to spend time with their new family. Paternity leave is quite separate from parental leave.

The right to statutory paternity leave is given if you are an employee with a contract of employment and if you meet the following criteria: In general you must:

  • Have at least 26 weeks continuous service with your current employer, ending before the 15th week before the baby is due (to be taken as the expected week of confinement (EWC) or by the end of the week in which you are notified of being matched with your child.
  • Be the biological father of the child or partner (including same-sex relationship) or you are the child’s adopter or the partner of the adopter.
  • Be fully involved in the child’s upbringing and are taking time off to support the mother or care for the baby.



The level of statutory paternity leave that may now be taken is two weeks. It can be taken in a block of one week or two weeks, but if the employee chooses to take one week off it is not possible to take the other week at a later stage. The leave can start on any day of the week but it must finish within 56 days of the baby being born or the adoption placement.

Paternity leave is in addition to your normal holiday entitlements.


To qualify for leave you must tell your employer in writing at least 15 weeks before the beginning of the week when the baby is due or within 7 days of being told by the adoption agency that you have been matched with a child. You must tell your employer:

  • When the baby is due or when the child is expected to be placed with you for adoption.
  • Whether you want one or two weeks leave.
  • When you want the leave to start.

You must give your employer 28 days notice of the date on which you want your Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP) to start. You can also change your mind about the date on which you want your SPP to start by giving 28 days’ notice.


Statutory Paternity Pay rates change fairly frequently, normally once a year. If statutory leave applies the pay rates will be as per those listed in government websites. The rates will be 90% of your average wages or the SPP rate, whichever is lower.


  • While on statutory paternity leave, the employees’ terms and conditions of employment, except for remuneration, remain the same. They have no right to be paid their normal wages or salary, but may receive statutory paternity pay. Your employer will confirm this.
  • After statutory paternity leave employees do not need to give notice of their intention to return to work. They should simply return to work as usual.
  • Employees have the right to return to the job they left on the same terms and conditions of employment.
  • An employee has the right not to be subjected to a detriment or dismissed for asserting his or her right to take statutory paternity leave. A dismissal on these grounds would be automatically unfair.



The updated regulations came into force on 6 April 2010 but will have effect only in relation to children whose expected week of birth (or matching for adoption) begins on or after 3 April 2011. Under the regulations fathers will be entitled to up to six months additional paternity leave provided the mother has returned to work, thus giving parents the option of dividing a period of paid leave entitlement between them. To the extent that additional paternity leave is taken during the mother’s 39 week maternity pay period it will be paid leave, paid at the same rate and in the same way as Statutory Maternity Pay.

Fathers will be able to take up to six months’ paternity leave while their child’s mother returns to work, under government plans announced on the 28 January 2010.

Fathers will have a legal right to take the place of the mother at home for the last three months of her ninemonth maternity leave.

During that time, they would be eligible for statutory government pay. They would then be allowed to take an additional unpaid three months off, which would effectively allow couples to have a total of 12 months’ parental leave between them.


The above information sets out your basic rights as a Royal Mail employee, once you have met the eligibility criteria.