Labour Research June 2012

Law Queries

Paternity leave

Our member was working here as an employee of an employment agency. He is due to become a dad on around 10 July. He told the agency about this back in February. Four weeks ago he got offered a permanent job at our workplace — which he accepted. Shortly after starting as a direct employee, he tried to arrange taking paternity leave. However, the employer has turned him down saying he has not given enough notice. Is this right?

In order to take paternity leave an individual must make a request to the employer 15 weeks before the expected week of confinement. The expected week of confinement is the week during which the birth is estimated to occur.

Other information due is the date when the leave will commence and whether one or two weeks of leave is being sought by the employee.

In your member’s case, the notice that he has given his current employer is indeed insufficient.

It might be possible to argue that your member was always an employee of the current employer and that the arrangement with the agency was a sham. However, this is often not easy to prove.

Given this, the best solution for your member may well be a negotiated rather than a legal one.