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Paternity leave and pay

This article outlines your paternity rights regarding statutory paternity leave and pay with information on ordinary and additional paternity leave in the UK.

This article covers the following areas in relation to paternity leave and paternity pay:

Time off for antenatal apppointments
What is paternity leave?
Are you eligible for Statutory Paternity leave?
Are you eligible for Statutory Paternity Pay?

Telling your employer about your paternity leave
Further information

Time off for antenatal appointments

Fathers and partners have a legal right to take unpaid time off work to accompany their spouse or partner to up to two antenatal appointments. You are entitled to take a maximum of 6.5 hours per appointment, including travelling and waiting time. Any additional time can be taken as annual leave. You should discuss with your employer which antenatal appointments you wish to attend, for example, you may only wish to attend scans or you may need to attend more appointments if there are particular concerns. Your employer can ask you to provide a written declaration saying that:

  • you are the spouse/partner (including civil partner or same sex partner) of the mother or the baby’s father, 
  • you are taking time off to accompany her to an antenatal appointment,
  • the appointment is made on the advice of a registered medical practitioner, midwife or nurse, and
  • the date and time of the appointment.

If your employer refuses unpaid time off or you are dismissed or treated unfairly for taking or trying to take time off, you can make a claim in an employment tribunal within three months (less one day).

Your employer may provide some paid time off and some employers offer more time off than the legal minimum so it is worth checking your employer’s policy. If your employer does not provide paid leave, you could ask if you can work at home for part of the day or make up the time later. Alternatively, you could take paid annual leave.

What is paternity leave?

Paternity leave is up to two weeks’ paid leave from work following the birth of a baby. You can take one week or two weeks in a row but not odd days or two separate weeks. The leave must be taken after the baby has been born, but no later than 56 days after the birth.

Are you eligible for Statutory Paternity Leave?

In order to be eligible for this statutory paternity leave you must be an employee and:

  • Have, or expect to have responsibility for the child’s upbringing,
  • Be the biological father of the child, or the mother’s husband, partner or civil partner (including same-sex partners) and have or expect to 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 and
  • Still employed by the same employer once the baby is born.

Agency workers, zero hours contract workers, casuals and other workers such as freelancers, contractors, do not qualify for paternity leave (which is the right to return to the same job) but may qualify for Statutory Paternity Pay if they want to take some time off to care for the baby.

Are you eligible for Statutory Paternity Pay (SSP)?

You are entitled to SSP if you:

  • Have worked continuously for your employer for 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the baby is due,
  • Are still employed by the same employer once the baby is born, and
  • Earn at least £112 a week during an eight week calculation period (eight weeks before the 15th week before the baby is due).

Statutory Paternity Pay is paid at the same flat rate as Statutory Maternity Pay, £139.58 or 90% of your average earnings if lower, for one or two weeks.

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 SSP if they meet the qualifying conditions above. Self-employed fathers and partners are not entitled to paternity leave and SPP (unless they pay themselves via  PAYE and pay Class 1 National Insurance).

Telling your employer about your paternity leave

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

When requesting paternity leave you should provide the following information:

  • Your name,
  • the date the baby is due or the date of the birth,
  • the date when you would like your paternity leave (and pay) to start,
  • whether you are taking one or two week’s paternity leave,
  • a declaration you are entitled to paternity leave and
  • a declaration that you are taking leave to support the mother or care for your child.

You can use your employer’s own forms or forms that are available from HM Revenue and Customs:

You now also have the right to take Shared Parental Leave with your partner if your partner returns to work early or reduces her maternity leave and pay.

Last updated April 2016

Further information

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.