Fathers & The Law: Employment Rights Advice from Jefferies

Posted on June 13, 2019
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With Father’s Day around the corner, it’s the ideal time to reflect on the rights of fathers when it comes to employment law. Whether you’re a father or mother, many modern families face a range of challenges as they juggle parenthood with work commitments. Increasingly, fathers want to combine work with time with their children, while many mothers want to also focus on their careers with extra help from their partner.

At Jefferies Solicitors, we want to make sure you know your paternal rights and responsibilities as an employee. We also advise employers on best practices and policies to treat all parents fairly. Read on for some of the most frequently asked questions and answers about entitlements for fathers in the workplace.

Are fathers entitled to parental leave or pay?

If you’re a new father, a father-to-be or will share responsibility with a partner for raising a child, you are most likely to have the right to paternity leave and pay. However, you’ll need to give your employer notice that you need to take paternity leave – at least 15 weeks before your baby’s due date, or within 7 days of being matched with a child for adoption.

By law, fathers are allowed to take 2 weeks paid leave at the time of their child’s birth, or when adopting a child.  In order to qualify, fathers have to be continuously employed for 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the expected week of the child’s arrival.

All parents who have worked for their current employer for at least one year are also entitled to unpaid parental leave. As an expectant father, you will also be allowed to take unpaid leave to attend two antenatal appointments and have a legal right to take unpaid emergency leave to be at the birth of your child.

If you are unsure about your entitlements as a father or think you’ve been given the ‘short straw’ by your employer, get in touch with our team today for advice on leave and pay.

What about shared parental leave?

Introduced in April 2015, shared parental leave can benefit both partners to arrange their childcare around work commitments. If negotiated correctly, this right can allow fathers to take up to 50 weeks leave after the birth of a baby while maintaining the right to return to work. This can be a great solution for parents that share the care with the child in a way that works ideally for them.

Parents can be entitled to share up to 50 weeks of leave and up to 37 weeks’ pay between them, and can choose to be off work together or to alternate the leave of pay. This means eligible parents can be off together for up to 6 months or alternatively share their leave or pay so that one of them is always with the new-born in their first year.

At Jefferies, we always put the best interest of the child at heart, helping parents to make arrangements that work for all the family. If you need guidance in making a shared parental leave agreement without any disputes, our teams can help you smooth out all the details – be that with your partner or place of employment. See our family law department and employment law department for more information.

What employment rights do mothers have over fathers?

Maternity pay is intended to protect the health and wellbeing of pregnant and birth mothers, which means women have different protection under the law. This also means fathers are not entitled to the same ‘day-one right’ as mothers that can immediately leave work to recover from birth.

In some cases, there can also be differences in pay between men and women due to different entitlements in maternity leave. For example, if an employer decides to make an increase in maternity leave pay, the law does not require the employer to match that pay with shared parental leave. This means employers can offer mothers more maternity pay than fathers are entitled to with paternity pay. However, an employer can choose to match or enhance this if they wish to do so.

If you are an employer looking to review your policies or ensure your gender pay gap is best practice, get informed with one of our business employment law experts today.

What if I’m experiencing discrimination as a father at work?

Discrimination against all parents in the workplace is becoming increasingly recognised thanks to the media, with recent reports declaring a general rise in parents making workplace discrimination claims – related to both maternity and paternity leave. Recent research from Direct Line, for example, showed there has been a number of fathers claiming harassment for taking parental leave. The research showed a 63% increase in fathers saying they had been demoted upon returning to work, and a 61% increase in disputes related to promotions.

At Jefferies, we help both employers and employees to ensure they are up-to-date with latest anti-discriminative and equality laws. If you feel you are being treated unfairly as a parent by your employer, or are an employer looking to ensure you are up-to-date with latest equality legislation, send your enquiry to our employment law team today.

Do fathers have the right to flexible working hours?

Pressures in the workplace can mean some parents are sacrificing time with their children to ensure they are keeping up with the demands of the job, but fathers can still be entitled to the right to ‘flexible working’ and work-life balance.

Flexible working has become an increasingly accepted option for fathers that require to spend more time with their children, which may help them to get the flexible working pattern that they want.  All employees with more than 26 weeks service have the statutory right to request it. This can include homeworking, job sharing or different work hours than normal.

If you need any guidance in regard to making a flexible working claim, or have been refused your claim and need advice, get in touch with us today.

How can Jefferies help employees and employers?

Issues relating to HR can be complex and sensitive, so it is important to have a Solicitor by your side that is able to work tactfully with knowledge of all sides. At Jefferies Solicitors, we have both personal employment law and business employment law services, helping both employees and employers to ensure they are protected under up-to-date employment law for fathers.

From measures on paternity leave and pay, shared parental leave and the right of flexible working, our experts can advise whether your entitlements are fair and guide you to next steps. Contact a member of our employment Solicitors now, on 01702 332 311 or contact us on employmentlaw@jefferieslaw.co.uk

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