Dad holding a baby

FAQ: Paternity Leave In The UK

If you’ve just become a dad or you’re the partner of a new mum, paternity leave is a great way to take some time off work to care for your newborn. Here we guide you through the rules for paternity leave in the UK; when paternity leave can start; how much paternity leave fathers and partners are entitled to; what the criteria are for paternity pay, and what other benefits may be available to you.

What Is the Paternity Leave and Pay Entitlement in the UK?

Am I Eligible for Paternity Leave and Pay?

How Do I Arrange Maternity Leave?

What Are My Employment Rights While I’m on Leave?

Is There Any More Support Available?

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What If I’m Adopting or Having a Baby by Surrogacy?

What Is the Paternity Leave and Pay Entitlement in the UK?

If your partner (including same-sex partners) is having a baby you may be eligible for:

  • Paternity Leave. You can choose to take one or two weeks of leave, and it must be taken in one block. In other words, you can’t return to work between two separate weeks of leave.
  • Paternity Pay. The pay is £145.18 or 90 percent of your average weekly earnings (whichever is lower). This is paid at the same intervals as your wages (for example, monthly or fortnightly), and tax and national insurance are deducted.

When Does Paternity Leave Start and End?

When your paternity leave starts is pretty flexible, and the choice is yours. You can take paternity leave from the day your baby is born, or start it days or weeks later. The only restriction is that the leave has to end within 56 days of your baby’s birth.

Am I Eligible for Paternity Leave and Pay?

You may be eligible for paternity leave and pay if you are the father of the child, or the husband or partner of the mother or adopter (this includes same-sex partners). You have to meet additional criteria, too – these are described below. In some cases, you may be eligible for leave but not paternity pay, so any leave you take is unpaid.

Paternity Leave Criteria

  • You must be an employee who has worked continuously at your workplace for at least 26 weeks by the end of the ‘qualifying week’ – the 15th week before the baby is due.
  • You must tell your boss if you’d like to take leave at least 15 weeks before your baby is due. Of course, you can tell your employer a little earlier in your partner’s second trimester if you’d like to.

Paternity Pay Criteria

  • You’ve been employed by your workplace continuously for at least 26 weeks by the end of the ‘qualifying week’.
  • You’re still employed when your baby is born.
  • You earn at least £116 a week (before tax).
  • You’ve asked for paid paternity leave at least 15 weeks before your baby is due.

This calculator allows you to easily check whether you are eligible. If you are not eligible, your workplace must tell you within 28 days of getting your request. Keep in mind, if you’re not eligible, there may be other types of benefits you can access.

How Do I Arrange Maternity Leave?

At least 15 weeks before your baby’s due date tell your boss when you would like to take paternity leave or paid paternity leave. You don’t have to give an exact date. For example, you could say something like: you’d like leave to start the day your child’s born. You need to tell your boss your baby’s due date, and advise whether you want to take one or two weeks of leave. You don’t need to provide proof of your partner’s pregnancy or your child’s birth. If you want to change your leave dates you have to give your boss 28 days’ notice.

To claim paternity pay, you need to use the SC3 form, or your company’s own version.

What Are My Employment Rights While I’m on Leave?

You have the same employment rights as your colleagues while on paternity leave, which means you would get any pay rises given while you are on leave, and continue to accrue holiday days.

Is There Any More Support Available?

It’s natural to feel overwhelmed if you’re a first-time parent or having another child, but knowing whether you can access other benefits may help relieve some of the pressure. Here are some options you may have:

  • Unpaid time off to attend two antenatal appointments with your partner. Each block of time can be up to 6.5 hours long.
  • You may be eligible for child benefits, tax credits, and other financial support. Read more about governmental help for parents.
  • Company paternity schemes. Your workplace may offer benefits like more time off or more paternity pay, so it’s worth asking if there is anything additional on offer.
  • Shared parental leave and pay. If your partner is taking maternity leave, or getting maternity pay or maternity allowance, you may be able to share up to 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of pay. This is great option if you both want to share the responsibility of caring for your baby in the first year after your baby is born. Shared parental leave provides both parents with more flexibility, for example if you both want to take a longer period of leave together, or if your partner wants to return to work while you stay home. Read more about how shared parental leave works and eligibility criteria.

As every new parent knows, every penny counts, and although you’ll be needing lots of nappies and wipes that doesn’t mean you can’t get rewarded for each Pampers product you buy. Download the Pampers Club app for rewards like coupons and toys.

What If I’m Adopting or Having a Baby by Surrogacy?

Whether you’re adopting, your partner is adopting, or you’re having a baby via a surrogate, you may be eligible for paternity leave or pay so you have that special time to bond with and care for your child.

Adoption

For starters, once you’ve been matched with your child, you can get time off to go with your partner to two adoption appointments. You may also be eligible for paternity leave and pay. The criteria are similar to that of standard paternity leave, with one small change: You have to have worked continuously for your employer for at least 26 weeks in the lead-up to the so-called ‘matching week’. For UK adoptions ‘matching week’ is the end of the week you’re matched with a child, for overseas adoptions it is the date your child enters the UK or the day you want your leave or pay to start. Paternity leave can start:

  • On the date your child is placed with you
  • In the days after the date of placement (if agreed with your employer)
  • In the case of overseas adoptions, on the date your child arrives in the UK (or an agreed number of days after this).

Paternity leave must be taken within 56 days of the date your child was placed with you, or – in the case of overseas adoptions – the date of your child’s arrival in the UK.

To claim paternity leave or pay for local adoptions use the SC4 form, or use the form provided by your workplace. For paternity leave, you must submit the form within seven days of your partner or co-adopter being matched with a child. For paternity pay, submit the form at least 28 days before you want the pay to start. For overseas adoptions, use the SC5 form. The guidelines for when you need to advise your workplace in the case of overseas adoptions are described in detail on the form.

Your workplace may not ask for proof of adoption for paternity leave, though sometimes they might. However, you will need to provide proof to get paternity pay. Proof can be a letter from your adoption agency or the matching certificate.

Parents who adopt may also be eligible for shared parental leave and pay. The eligibility criteria for adoptive parents are a little different.

Surrogacy

If you have your child via a surrogate, the eligibility criteria for parental leave are the same as for birth parents. If you qualify, you can start your leave the day your child is born or the day after. You may be eligible for paternity pay if:

  • You are in a couple with the other parent (i.e. married, in a civil partnership, or living as partners)
  • You’re responsible for the child together with your partner (i.e. you are the legal parent of the child and the child is living with you)
  • You have been employed by your workplace continuously for at least 26 weeks by the end of the ‘qualifying week’ − the 15th week before the baby is due.

To claim paternity leave or pay, you’ll need to use the SC4 form that adoptive parents use. Some workplaces ask for a written statement (signed in front of a legal professional) confirming that you intend to apply for a parental order, which transfers legal rights from the birth mother to you and your partner, in the six months after your child is born.

Taking time off to spend with your baby in those first few precious weeks is probably something you’re looking forward to. It’s good to know that if you’re eligible for paternity leave or pay, you can enjoy this time without having to worry about work. Alternatively, if you aren’t eligible, it’s good to investigate what else you may be able to get instead to make things a little easier during this exciting time.

If there is a dispute about your paid paternity leave, call the HM Revenue and Customs enquiry line. For more information on what benefits you may be eligible for contact your nearest Jobcentre Plus.

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