Dad playing with baby

As an employee, do you get leave for your pregnant partner's scan appointments? How much time off will you get with the baby? Here’s your guide…

Antenatal appointments

Dads and partners have a legal right to take unpaid time off work to go along to two antenatal appointments (Working Families 2019b).

You’re entitled to take a maximum of six and a half hours per appointment including travelling and waiting time (Working Families 2019b).

If you want or need to take any extra time, you can take it as annual leave. You could also offer to make up the time later or work from home part of the day, if logistics are tricky.

Some employers will give you paid time off too, or give you more time than the legal minimum. So make sure you don’t miss out and check your HR policy on this (Acas 2019).

Your employer can ask you to confirm the following in writing:

  • You are the spouse/partner (including civil partner or same-sex partner) of the mother or baby’s father.
  • You are taking time off to go to an antenatal appointment.
  • The appointment is made on the advice of a registered medical practitioner, midwife or nurse.
  • The date and time of the appointment (Working Families 2019b).

Your employer shouldn’t refuse unpaid time off or treat you unfairly for asking. If that does happen, you can make a claim at an employment tribunal within three months (Acas 2019).

Paternity leave: how it works

Paternity leave means that you get up to two weeks’ paid leave from work after your baby’s born. You can’t take odd days or two separate weeks (Gov.uk 2019; Working Families 2019a).

You’ve got to take the time after your baby’s born and no later than 56 days after the birth (Gov.uk 2019; Working Families 2019a).

Can I get paternity leave?

To be eligible for Statutory Paternity Leave you must be an employee and:

  • Have, or expect to have, responsibility for the child’s upbringing.
  • Be the biological father or the mother’s husband, partner or civil partner (including same-sex partners) and have responsibility for the child’s upbringing.
  • Have worked continuously for your employer for 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the baby is due.
  • Still be employed by the same employer once the baby is born.

(Gov.uk 2019; Working Families 2019a)

Paternity leave if you’re self-employed

Agency workers, zero hours contract workers, casuals, freelancers and contractors don’t qualify for paternity leave (Gov.uk 2019; Working Families 2019a).

However you may still qualify for Statutory Paternity Pay if you want to take some time off to look after your baby (Gov.uk 2019; Working Families 2019a).

If you’re not entitled to paternity leave, you might be able to take some unpaid time off for dependants after your baby is born.

If you can’t take paternity leave or time off for dependants, or you need more paid time off, you could ask your employer for annual leave. Unpaid parental leave can also be taken by eligible employees when a child is born (Working Families 2019a).

Can I get paternity pay?

You are entitled to Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP) if you:

  • Have worked continuously for your employer for 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before your baby is due.
  • Are still employed by the same employer once your baby is born.
  • Earn at least £116 a week during an eight-week calculation period (eight weeks before the 15th week before your baby is due).

(Gov.uk 2019; Working Families 2019a)

Paternity pay calculator: how much could I get?

SPP is paid at the same flat rate as Statutory Maternity Pay (£145.18 or 90% of your average earnings if lower). But paternity leave only lasts for one or two weeks (Gov.uk 2019; Working Families 2019a).

Agency workers, zero hours contract workers, casuals and freelancers and contractors who are paid through PAYE and have tax and National Insurance deducted at source are entitled to SPP if they meet the qualifying conditions above (Gov.uk 2019; Working Families 2019a).

Self-employed dads and partners are not entitled to paternity leave and SPP (unless they pay themselves via PAYE and pay Class 1 National Insurance) (Gov.uk 2019; Working Families 2019a).

Find out how much paternity pay you are entitled to using the Government’s online calculator.

Paternity leave form

You have to give your employer notice of the date you want to take paternity leave by the 15th week before your baby is due.

When you ask for paternity leave, you should provide the following information:

  • Your name.
  • The date your baby is due/date of the birth.
  • The date when you would like your paternity leave (and pay) to start.
  • Whether you are taking one or two weeks’ paternity leave.
  • That you are entitled to paternity leave.
  • That you are taking leave to support the mother or care for your child.

(Gov.uk 2019; Working Families 2019a)

You can use your employer’s own forms or form SC3, available on Gov.uk.

You now also have the right to take Shared Parental Leave with your partner, if you want more time with your baby - and if you and your partner meet the qualifying conditions (Gov.uk 2019; Working Families 2019a).

This page was last reviewed in September 2017.

Further information

Our support line offers practical and emotional support with feeding your baby and general enquiries for parents, members and volunteers: 0300 330 0700.

ACAS advice on employment rights 0300 123 1100

Equality and Human Rights Commission Toolkit for Employers

Equality Advisory Support Service advice on discrimination and human rights 0808 800 0082

Gov.uk information Details on paternity rights in the workplace can be found on Directgov.

HM Revenue & Customs Helpline for employers on statutory pay: 0300 200 3200, employees 0300 200 3500

Call the Maternity Action helpline on 0845 600 8533 for information on maternity rights.

Working Families helpline: 0300 012 0312 or email: advice@workingfamilies.org.uk.

Acas (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service). (2019) Paternity leave and pay. Available from: http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx? [Accessed 1st February 2019]

Gov.uk. (2019) Paternity pay and leave. Available from: https://www.gov.uk/paternity-pay-leave [Accessed 1st February 2019]

Working Families. (2019a) Paternity. Available from: https://www.workingfamilies.org.uk/article-categories/paternity-2/ [Acc… 1st February 2019]

Working Families. (2019b) Time off work when your partner is pregnant. Available from: https://www.workingfamilies.org.uk/articles/time-off-work-when-your-par… 1st February 2019]

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