Father with baby girl

Paternity leave and pay

Paternity leave and pay for teachers and support staff in schools and colleges. 

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 new-born child or adopted child or to support the child's mother or main adopter.

Paternity benefits are available to the: 

  • biological father
  • 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.

Local arrangements

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.

Your responsibilities

You should notify your employer of your wish to take paternity leave by the following dates:

  • birth - 28 days' notice prior to each period of leave 
  • 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 your child is born or placed for adoption and must be taken within 52 weeks of the birth or placement for adoption. If your child is born prematurely then you have 52 weeks from the expected date of childbirth to take your leave. Paternity leave can also be taken if your baby is stillborn after 24 weeks.

You may take one or two blocks of paternity leave - one full week, two consecutive weeks or two separate weeks. 

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.

Antenatal classes

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.

Pregnant woman with a laptop

Maternity rights

Maternity rights and entitlements available to teachers and support staff in schools and colleges.

pregnancy loss - woman hugging another

Parental bereavement leave

This advice provides guidance on parental bereavement leave and pay for teachers and support staff members in schools or colleges, including eligibility, length of leave, and notification requirements.

Family photo

Family rights

Teachers and support staff rights to time off to deal with family-related issues, from child birth to a death in the family.

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