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Law guide

Ordinary paternity leave - contractual issues

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Your contract of employment continues throughout statutory ordinary paternity leave (OPL) unless either you or your employer expressly ends it or it expires.

Terms and conditions during OPL

During OPL an employee has a statutory right to continue to benefit from all the terms and conditions of employment which would have applied to them had they been at work, except for the terms relating to wages or salary.

Examples of contractual terms and conditions that continue to apply during OPL include:

  • Gym membership
  • Participation in share schemes
  • Reimbursement of professional subscriptions
  • The use of a company car or mobile phone (unless provided for business use only)
Continuous employment and ordinary paternity leave

OPL counts towards an employee's period of continuous employment for the purposes of entitlement to other statutory employment rights, e.g. the right to a redundancy payment.

It also counts towards assessing seniority and length-of-service payments, such as pay increments.

Accrual of annual leave

An employee continues to accrue statutory and any contractual annual leave entitlement throughout OPL.

An employee may not take annual leave during ordinary paternity leave but may take it immediately before or after it.

Contributions to an occupational pension scheme (OPS)

For the purpose of pension rights, an employer should maintain its contribution to an OPS whilst an employee is taking OPL. The employee must continue to pay his pension contributions if the pension scheme rules require him to do so. An employee will not have to make any contributions towards their pension during any period in which he is not receiving any statutory ordinary paternity pay. However, he may still make voluntary contributions if the pension scheme rules allow him/her to do so.

Returning to work from ordinary paternity leave

An employee is entitled to return to the same job on the same terms and conditions of employment as if they had not been absent on OPL, keeping their remuneration, seniority and status.

However, the employee won't have this right if the last 2 or more consecutive periods of their leave included a period of:

  • more than 4 weeks' parental leave; or
  • other statutory leave (such as shared parental leave) that, as well as their paternity leave, results in more than 26 weeks' leave (for employees in England, Wales and Scotland).
If so, employees won't be entitled to return to the role they had before going on leave if it isn't reasonably possible for the employer. However, they will have the right to return to another job that is both suitable and appropriate for them to do. They must keep their remuneration, seniority and status.

They are also entitled to benefit from any general improvements to the rate of pay or other terms and conditions introduced while they were away.