Paternity leave

Paternity leave is time off work when your partner is having a baby. Not everyone qualifies for, or can afford to take, paternity leave. If you are able to take it, it is a valuable time for you to get to know and care for your baby and support your partner. Feeling included at this stage will help you take a more active role as your baby grows.

Ordinary paternity leave

Two weeks ordinary paternity leave is available for fathers (biological or adoptive), or partners (including same-sex partners) who are working. If you’re an employee, you might also be eligible for:

·     One or two weeks of statutory paternity pay

·     up to 26 weeks’ additional paternity leave (only if your partner has returned to work)

You may not get both leave and pay and there are rules on how to claim and when your leave can start. A mother and father or partner can also share leave.   

Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP)

SPP is a flat rate (or 90% of earning if this is less)

·     You must have been earning more than the National Insurance lower earnings limit.

·     You must have worked for the same employer for 26 weeks by the 15th week before the baby is due.

·     You must start and end SPP within 56 days of your baby’s arrival.

·     You must also give your employer the correct notice.

Additional Paternity Leave & Pay

Additional paternity leave (APL) was introduced in 2010 to enable fathers to take more time off work; allowing parents to have six months' leave each during their baby's first year.

The move reflected the growing trend for fathers to be more involved with childcare and allowed parents to share leave. If the mother goes back to work at least 20 weeks after the birth, but before using all her maternity leave, the father or partner may be able to take the rest as additional paternity leave, and may be able to get additional SPP for up to 19 weeks. This could be financially worthwhile if the mother is the higher earner.  

To be eligible for ordinary and additional paternity leave you must have worked for your employer for at least 26 weeks by either:

·     the end of the 15th week before the start of the week when your baby is due

·     the end of the week you’re told you’re matched with your adopted child

·     the date your child enters Scotland (if you’re adopting from overseas).

You must also be one of the following:

·     the biological father of the child

·     the mother’s husband or partner (including civil partnerships)

·     the child’s adopter

·     the husband or partner (including civil partnerships) of the child’s adopter.

You must also give your employer the correct notice

If you have more than one baby

·     If your partner has a multiple birth, for example twins, you are only entitled to one single period of paternity leave.

If you lose your child

·     You are entitled to Ordinary Paternity Leave if your child is stillborn after 24 weeks of pregnancy or born alive at any point of the pregnancy.

Parental leave

Both parents have the right to take up to 18 weeks’ unpaid parental leave per parent per child. You must have worked for your employer for one year by the date you wish to take it. You can take parental leave after maternity or paternity leave; providing you give 21 days’ notice and the child is aged up to five years (or aged up to 18 years if the child is disabled).

Eligible employees can take unpaid parental leave to look after their child’s welfare, e.g. to:

·     spend more time with their children

·     look at new schools

·     settle children into new childcare arrangements

·     spend more time with family e.g. visiting grandparents.

For the latest rates and to check you are entitled to paternity leave or SPP, go to confused? If you need help working out whether you are eligible then call 0300 012 0312 or visit the Working Families website.

Last Updated: 14 October 2014
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