Statutory paternity leave and paternity pay is available to fathers and the partners of mothers and adopters. You may have a contractual right to paternity leave and pay as well as your statutory right. You may combine these rights and you may take advantage of whichever provision is more favourable. If in doubt, seek advice from the AdviceLine.
Statutory paternity pay
Statutory Paternity Pay is a weekly payment made by employers to eligible employees for one or two weeks.
You will be entitled to Statutory Paternity Pay if you qualify for Statutory Paternity Leave and you:
- have been employed by the same employer from the end of the 15th week before the expected week of birth to the date of the birth, or 26 weeks by the date of notification of placement; and
- earn at least the lower earnings limit per week for 8 weeks ending with the 15th week before the expected week of the birth, or notification of the placement.
You will be entitled to the weekly rate of Statutory Paternity Pay or 90 per cent of your average weekly earnings if this is lower.
Statutory paternity leave
Statutory Paternity Leave is an absence from work to care for a newborn child or adopted child or to support the child's mother or main adopter.
- Paternity benefits are available to the:
- husband or partner of the mother.
spouse or partner of the adopter.
All employees who have worked for their employer for 26 weeks by the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth, or 26 weeks by the date of notification of placement are covered.
You may wish to discuss with your employer the possibility of being paid paternity pay at the normal salary rate. Although this is not in the legislation, employers do have the discretion to increase the amount of paternity pay they provide.
Employers may also be flexible about how paternity leave is taken and may, for example, allow one week to be taken at the time the child is born and the second week to be taken a few weeks later.
If your employer only pays a few days at full pay, the remainder of your paternity pay will be paid at the rate of statutory paternity pay.
Prospective fathers or a mother’s partner can take unpaid time off work to attend up to two antenatal appointments if they are an employee or if they have worked as an agency worker in the same role with the same school or college for at least 12 weeks. A maximum of 6.5 hours can be taken for each appointment. The NEU recommends that employers should agree the time off to be on full pay.
You should notify your employer of your wish to take paternity leave by the following dates:
- birth - the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth
- adoption - within seven days of the notification of placement.
You must provide a paternity certificate to your employer. This is a written statement that you are entitled to take paternity leave, the expected week of childbirth or date of placement and when you would like your paternity leave to start. Your employer may have a locally produced form for this; otherwise, a letter with the relevant information will be sufficient.
Starting paternity leave
Paternity leave can be taken on the day that the child is born or placed for adoption and must be taken within 56 days of the birth or placement for adoption. If the child is born prematurely then you have 56 days from the expected date of childbirth to take the leave. Paternity leave can also be taken if the baby is stillborn after 24 weeks.
You may only take one block of paternity leave and this can either be one or two weeks in length.
You may vary the start of your paternity leave by giving 28 days' notice.
Make sure that you take your paternity leave before you take any shared parental leave. If you take shared parental leave first, you will not be able to exercise your right to statutory paternity leave.