Advice on paternity leave whether you are the biological father, or the mother's husband or partner (including same sex partners) with information on your statutory paternity leave entitlement rights.
Paternity leave is the right to two weeks leave from work following the birth of a baby, if you are the biological father, or the mother's husband or partner (including same sex partners). You can take one week or two weeks in a row but not odd days or two separate weeks.
Paternity leave must be taken within 56 days of the birth or if the baby is born before the expected week, paternity leave can be taken any time from the actual date of birth up to 56 days from the day the baby would have been DUE. You cannot take longer for a multiple birth but you can take parental leave if you are entitled to it.
You can take paternity leave if:
- you are an employee.
- you have worked for your employer for 26 weeks by the 15th week before the baby is due or if the baby is born before then, you would have worked for your employer for 26 weeks by the 15th week before the baby is due.
- you are still employed by the same employer before the birth.
- you are the biological father or the mother's husband or partner (including same sex partners).
- you are responsible for the child and taking time off to care for the child or support the mother.
To work out the 15th week before the baby is due find the Sunday before the baby is due and count back 15 weeks. That is the start of the 15th week.
To get paternity leave you must give your employer the following information by the 15th week before the baby is due. To get Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP) you must give your employer 28 days notice. You can give notice for both leave and pay in the 15th week if you wish. If your employer asks for it, the notice must be in writing:
- 1. when the baby is expected to be born (or date of birth if already born)
- 2. whether you want to take one or two weeks leave
- 3. when you want your leave to start
- State that you want to receive one or two weeks SPP
To get SPP you must also give your employer a signed letter saying that you are the baby's father or the husband/partner of the mother and you are or expect to be responsible for the baby's upbringing,
If you want to change the start of your leave you must tell your employer at least 28 days in advance, or as soon as reasonably practicable.
If your baby is born prematurely, you should give notice, as above, as soon as reasonably practicable and tell your employer the date your baby was born.
If your baby is stillborn after the end of the 24th week of pregnancy you are still entitled to paternity leave and SPP and you should give your employer notice as above.
Paternity leave can start on any day of the week. You can choose to start your leave on:
- the day the baby is born, or
- a fixed number of days/weeks after the birth. Or
- a fixed date after the day the baby is due. Remember your leave must be completed by 56 days from the birth (or 56 days from the due date if your baby is premature).
If you choose to start your leave on the day the baby is born and you are at work that day your leave will start the following day. If you choose a fixed day and your baby has not been born yet you must give notice as soon as possible that you wish to take paternity leave from the day the baby is born or from a new date. You cannot have paternity leave and pay before the birth.
SPP is paid by employers for up to 2 weeks at a rate of Â£112.75 per week or 90% of your average earnings, if that is less. Employers claim the SPP back from the Inland Revenue. You do not have to repay it if you do not go back to work for your employer.
Some employers give better paternity pay so always check your contract or ask.
During your paternity leave you are entitled to all your normal contractual terms and conditions apart from your basic wages or salary. Benefits such as share schemes, a company car or mobile phone (unless provided for business use only) continue during paternity leave. Your employer must continue to pay your pension contributions based on your normal salary but any contributions you pay should be based on the paternity pay you actually receive. You are still regarded as continuing in employment during paternity leave so your length of service is continuous. You have the right to return to exactly the same job on the same terms and conditions after paternity leave. You are protected from unfair treatment or dismissal and can claim compensation in an employment tribunal.
If you want to be present when your baby is born you can take paternity leave (if you qualify) at the birth as long as you give your employer the correct notice. You can also take unpaid parental leave (if you qualify) at the birth or immediately after your paternity leave. You must give 21 days' notice of the date your baby is due and tell your employer how much parental leave you would like to take. You will then be allowed to take parental leave when your baby is born and your employer cannot postpone it.
If you have not managed to give the correct notice or you do not qualify for paternity/parental leave, you can take emergency time off for dependents (TOFD) to provide assistance whilst the baby is born. However TOFD finishes as soon as the emergency is over (i.e. as soon as the baby has been born).