This Q&A was written for and first featured in the Financial Times
Q) A member of my staff has applied for additional paternity leave to begin in just over two months. He has been with my company for a number of years so he is entitled to the leave. However, he has requested to take the time off in two chunks where he wishes to come back in for a number of weeks and then take more time off, according to his wife’s own work plans. Am I legally required to grant him time off in two chunks?
A) I understand that the employee has been with the company for a number of years and therefore meets the service criteria for additional paternity leave. On the basis that he also meets the other eligibility criteria in respect of that right, the simple answer to your question is no, you are not legally required to give the employee time off in two chunks.
The statutory minimum entitlement to additional paternity leave (which is separate and in addition to ordinary paternity leave) is to one period of leave which must be taken to care for the child and taken in multiples of complete weeks. The leave must be taken within a certain period which begins 20 weeks after the birth of the child (or placement in adoption cases) and ends 12 months after the birth or placement of the child. The minimum period of additional paternity leave that may be taken is two weeks and the maximum period is 26 weeks.
Employees on additional paternity leave may, however, work during their additional paternity leave for up to ten days (referred to “keeping in touch” (“KIT”) days) without bringing their additional paternity leave to an end. You could, therefore, agree with the employee that he will return to work for a period of up to ten days during his additional paternity leave and “split” the leave in that way.