Paternity Leave in the UK: Everything You Need to Know
Paternity leave is the period of time that a father takes off from work after the birth or adoption of a child. The purpose of paternity leave is to give fathers the chance to bond with their newborns and be an active part of their early care.
This article will explore paternity leave in the UK, including how much time is offered to fathers.
What Does Paternity Leave Include?
If you are eligible, this is what you get:
- 1 or 2 weeks’ paid Paternity Leave (Statutory Paternity Leave)
- Paternity Pay (Statutory Paternity Pay)
- Shared Parental Leave and Pay
What is Statutory Paternity Leave?
Statutory Paternity Leave in the UK is the time by law that you can take off to support your partner.
How Many Days is Paternity Leave in the UK?
Employees are entitled to 1 or 2 consecutive weeks of job-protected paid leave if the employee’s partner is having a baby, adopting a child, or having a baby through a surrogacy arrangement.
You get the same amount of leave even if you have more than one child, such as twins.
A ‘week’ is the same as your typical working week. So, if you’re Monday – Friday, that’s five days, but working Monday – Tuesday is only three. Therefore, two ‘weeks’ in that case would be four days.
The entire leave must be taken in a single continuous period.
When Does Paternity Leave Start?
Your paternity leave can start on:
- the day the baby is born
- from an agreed date within 8 weeks after your baby is born or was expected to be born
- the day a child is placed with you for adoption
- a date after the birth or adoption that you agree in advance with your employer
When Does Paternity Leave End?
You must finish it within 8 weeks (56 days) of your baby being born or your adoption placement starting.
Eligibility: Who Can Take Paternity Leave?
To qualify for Statutory Paternity Leave, you must be the:
- the child’s biological father or adopter
- the husband or partner of the mother (or adopter) – this includes same-sex partners
- the intended parent – if you’re having a baby through surrogacy
You will also need to meet some other conditions:
- be legally classed as an employee (not a ‘worker’)
- give the correct notice (at least 15 weeks before your baby’s due date)
- have worked for your employer for 26 weeks by the 15th week before the baby is due
Rights While You’re on Paternity Leave
While you’re on paternity leave, you’ll still be entitled to all the employee rights you usually get from work – for example:
- protection from unfair dismissal
- pension payments
- pay rises
- build up (accrue) holiday
- any other employee benefits – for example, gym membership and medical insurance – for your whole paternity leave period
- return to work
Coming to Antenatal Appointments With Your Partner
Employees are entitled to take unpaid leave to accompany a pregnant partner to 2 antenatal appointments. You can take a maximum of 6.5 hours for each appointment, including travel to and from the appointment.
Agency employees are eligible if they have been employed for at least 12 weeks.
Paternity pay can include:
- Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP)
- Enhanced paternity pay
Statutory Paternity Pay
The rate of Statutory Paternity Pay is whichever amount is lower out of:
- £151.97 a week
- 90% of your average weekly earnings
The £151.97 rate of statutory paternity pay usually increases in April each year. It’s expected to rise to £156.66 from April 2022. If it increases while you’re getting statutory paternity pay, you’ll get the new, higher amount from the date of the change.
Eligibility – Who Can Get It?
To qualify for Statutory Paternity Pay, you must:
- have been continuously working for the same employer for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the due date, or by the time you’re matched with a child for adoption
- earn at least £120 a week
- keep working for your employer up to the date of birth
- give the correct notice (at least 15 weeks before the baby is due)
When Does Statutory Paternity Pay Start?
The money is usually paid while you’re on leave. Statutory Paternity Pay starts on the same day as your paternity leave.
Enhanced Paternity Pay
Some employers might offer you enhanced paternity pay. Enhanced paternity pay is an extra benefit some employers offer. This will be more than Statutory Paternity Pay. To find out if you’re entitled to enhanced paternity pay, check your contract or talk to your employer.
Paternity leave in the UK is a great benefit for new fathers. It is a great way for fathers to be more involved in their child’s life from the very beginning. Fathers should check with their employers to see their paternity leave entitlements.