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Terms and Conditions - Maternity Support Leave/Paternity Leave

Discussion in 'Pay and conditions' started by nick909, May 3, 2011.

  1. nick909

    nick909 Star commenter

    Hi, hoping someone could cast their eyes over this and give their opinion.
    My wife is due to give birth in just under a week's time and I've applied for Paternity Leave to commence when the baby's born. Obviously, I want to be there to support her during labour and childbirth. I've looked into my entitlement and the T&C on the LEA's website say:
    4. Maternity Support Leave
    Five days paid leave is allowed for the child’s father or the partner or nominated carer of an expectant mother to coincide with the birth of a child. The leave should be taken immediately prior to, during, or after the period of confinement.
    5. Maternity Support Leave/Paternity Leave
    There is a statutory right to two weeks paternity leave paid at the same rate of pay as Statutory Maternity Pay, however the council allows the first week to be paid at full pay under Maternity Support Arrangements.

    Now, according to the wording, I see this gives me 3 options.
    1) To opt out of Paternity Leave and still qualify for 5 days fully paid leave to support childbirth
    2) To take 2 weeks Paternity Leave at the rate of 5 days at full pay (under Maternity Support Arrangements) plus a second week at Statutory Maternity Pay
    3) To take 5 days Maternity Support Leave at full pay, and then 2 weeks' Paternity Leave at SMP

    I'd choose the third option as this gives me a 5 days to support my wife in the early stages of labour and then at the hospital immediately before, during and after birth, and then two weeks to support her and spend time as a brand new family at home.
    My HT has told me though that this isn't possible, that options 1 and 2 only are possible. My issues with this though are that if labour and childbirth take up to a week (which they frequently do, I believe!), then I'll get just a week at home.
    This doesn't seem right. You can have a week off if you don't take your entitled Paternity Leave but if you do choose to take it then you lose your initial week off.
    The money isn't even the issue - I'd take 3 weeks at SMP if I had to - but it feels like it's making it very difficult to do what I'd like to do to support my wife.
    Any views on this, or any experience?
    Many thanks.
  2. nick909

    nick909 Star commenter

    Thank you for your response, kyris.
    I'd suggest it's not clear, from the wording. The fact that they're called two different things is why it isn't clear.
    I was referring to the whole of the childbirth stage, from early labour to coming home from the hospital. My wife is 39 weeks pregnant and is not "miserable as sin". Far from it. Perhaps that describes your experiences, but my wife is as happy and as comfortable as can be expected. We understand all about what active labour is insofar as what we've been taught, but thanks loads for the impromptu antenatal class.
    Other than the 'you young 'uns don't know you're born' implication of your comment being irrelevant, 2 weeks' paternity leave isn't "generous", it's statutory.
    I take on board your comments about unpaid parental leave though.
    So, thanks.
  3. This seems pretty clear to me.
    Two weeks paid at SMP is statutory, your LA is 'generously' paying the first week at full pay - not all do.
    My third baby was due a couple of weeks before autumn half term and she arrived a week late (most first babies arrive between 1 and 2 weeks late). My parents live close by, so my husband elected to take his paternity leave the first two weeks after the half term holiday. I just had to manage 5 days, with my mother taking my older two children during the day. This meant that my husband was able to support for 3 weeks, and our baby was nearly a month old by the time he had to return to work. Bear in mind that this may not be something you want to do with your first baby, as it is such an unknown quantity.
    Good luck with the birth and the new baby. I've had three and I think
    you would be quite unlucky for your wife to need to be in hospital for
    more than 2 nights.
  4. Your LA is offering you full pay rather than SMP for the first week of your paternity leave. That's not statutory, it's generosity.
    Apologies for pointing out that your belief that labour "frequently does" last a week was false. I was attempting to reassure you that such old wives tales are simply horror stories. Both me and DD1 nearly died in childbirth. We were still out of the hospital within 4 days - they really don't like you to stay in once you're out of danger.
    I pointed out that paternity rules have become much more reasonable over the past few years and that you still have the option of parental leave. If you don't want people's opinions / thoughts, don't ask for them.

  5. * opinions / experiences not opinions / thoughts.
    You asked, I gave, you told me I was being irrelevant. Wow.
  6. tafkam

    tafkam Occasional commenter

    Afraid I agree - it strikes me that your authority is very generous.
    It will offer either the statutory minimum, or an enhanced version which allows you to receive full pay for the first week. Lucky you!
  7. nick909

    nick909 Star commenter

    Many thanks for the replies. I wasn't so much asking for opinions as to whether the LA was being generous or not, more opinions as to whether my HT's interpretation of the LA guidelines was correct. I am aware that 5 days at full pay is more generous than what most LAs offer, I'm just keen to understand my entitlement.
    Thanks for the opinions nonetheless.
  8. nick909

    nick909 Star commenter

    Kyris, maybe a case of crossed wires, but I read into your initial post an attempt to be patronising, hence my response. I appreciate it's sometimes difficult to perceive the implied tone in written form, so if this wasn't the case then I thank you for your advice. Thank you also for sharing your experience, I'm sorry to hear that your first birth was a rather traumatic one.
    Thanks indeed to Sharwyn and Tafkam as well for your opinions and shared experiences - I want to convey again that I'm not questioning the LA's generosity (I'm keenly aware that teachers benefit far more than other LA employees in that we get 13 weeks paid leave per year to spend with our families), but was trying to garner opinion on the interpretation of the guidelines. As I can see, you tend to agree with my HT's opinion, which I accept and thank you for. Pending a quick call to the LA to clarify this once and for all, I'll accept this as being the case and await the baby's arrival.
  9. Crowbob

    Crowbob Lead commenter

    Personally, I think there is more ambiguity than other posters are suggesting but I do agree with them overall.

    leave does not have to be taken at the time of birth. It must end no
    later than 56 days after birth. The Maternity Support described above is
    intended to allow you to be around at the time of birth. What if you
    wanted to take your paternity two weeks before the end of the 56 days?
    You would not be entitled to those 5 days paid leave? Seems strange.
    Also, the additional benefit applies to a wider class of person as it includes the mother's nominated carer.
    the other hand, IME Maternity Support leave is the new age word for
    Paternity leave (as it includes partners/same sex parents). It is normal
    practice for Maternity Support Leave to replace one week of statutory
    Your LA is causing the confusion in its unclear use of terms.
    I think you are right to check with the LA. Let us know what they say, as I would be interested as to what they say.


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