Nottinghamshire dad 'not eligible' for paternity leave despite death of his wife during childbirth

Peter Bearne reports

A Nottinghamshire dad is calling for a change in the law after being told he was not entitled to shared parental leave following his wife's death during childbirth.

Aaron Horsey's wife, Bernadette, died while undergoing a C-Section at the Royal Derby Hospital in January.

Their son arrived safely, but prior to the birth Aaron, who lives in Beeston, had changed jobs to work more remotely.

He then found out he wasn't entitled to paternity leave due to not being at work for nine months prior.

According to law, the father of a child has to have been in the same place of work for 26 weeks - when the due date is still 15 weeks away - in order to get paternity leave.

There's no allowance in legislation for when a mother dies during child birth.

"This should be the last thing anyone is worrying about"

Speaking to ITV News Central, Mr Horsey said he was "surprised" by the legal loophole.

"There was not actually anything to replace that in the case of bereavement," he said, before adding: "It was not the best time to be finding that out just after having lost your wife and gaining a lovely baby."

"This should be the last thing anyone is worrying about, whether they can actually take the time to look after a newborn."

His local MP, Darren Henry, has taken up the issue and raised it in parliament.

Mr Henry, the Tory MP for Broxtowe, asked Prime Minister Rishi Sunak if he would consider meeting with relevant ministers to amend the law.

Mr Sunak responded by sending his condolences to Mr Horsey on the loss of his wife - and it remains to be seen whether action will be taken on the issue - 10 months since the death of Bernadette.

What is the law on shared parental leave?

Parents can share up to 50 weeks of leave and up to 37 weeks of pay and/or take their leave and pay in a more flexible way.

Up to 37 weeks of shared parental pay is available to be shared between the parents at the lower of the statutory prescribed rate, which is currently £156.66 per week (as from 6 April 2022), or 90% of the relevant parent's normal weekly earnings.

The remaining 13 weeks of shared parental leave are unpaid.

How much paternity leave are people entitled to?

According to the government's website, new fathers can get up to two weeks paid paternity leave - meaning that employers are obliged to pay them during the period, all their rights are protected, and the time off doesn't count as holiday.

However, you have to give correct notice - that means telling your employer how much time you want off at least 15 weeks before the baby's due date.

You also need to have been employed by your workplace for at least 26 weeks prior to the leave.