Paternity Leave in the UK


Healthy Pregnancy
Ways Daddy Can Help Mummy with Baby

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 answer some questions you might have about paternity leave in the UK, such as: When does paternity leave start? How much paternity leave are fathers and partners entitled to? We’ll also guide you through the rules on how to apply for paternity leave and pay, what other benefits may be available and more.

Do Dads and Partners Get Paid Paternity Leave?

If your partner (including same-sex partners) is having a baby, then depending on your circumstances you may be eligible for

  • Paternity Leave

  • Paternity Pay.

How Much Paternity Leave Are Fathers and Partners Entitled To?

You can choose to take one or two weeks of paternity leave, and it must be taken in one block. In other words, you can’t return to work between two separate weeks of leave. For calculating paternity leave, a week is the number of days you usually work in a week – so for example, if you normally work on every weekday, a week is five days. If you only work Monday through Wednesday, it’s three days. If your partner is having twins, triplets or other multiples you’ll still get the same amount of paternity leave.

When Does Paternity Leave Start?

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 must end within 56 days after your baby’s birth.

In Summary

Fathers and partners can choose to take one or two weeks of paternity leave, in one continuous block. When your paternity leave starts is up to you, as long as the leave starts after your baby is born and ends within 56 days following the birth.

Is Paternity Leave Given at Full Pay?

No, statutory paternity pay in the UK is £156.66 or 90 percent of your average weekly earnings (whichever is lower) a week. This is paid at the same intervals as your wages (for example, monthly or fortnightly). Tax and national insurance are deducted from your paternity pay.

Are You Eligible for Paternity Leave and Pay?

You may have eligibility for paternity leave and pay if you are

  • the father or adopter of the child

  • 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. In this case, any leave you take will be unpaid.

Paternity Leave Entitlement 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 that 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 Entitlement 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 £123 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 that if you’re not eligible, there may still be other types of benefits you can access.

In Summary

To be eligible for paternity leave you need to be the child’s father or adopter, or the partner of the mother or adopter (including same-sex partners). Eligibility for paternity pay depends on other factors including how long you’ve worked in your workplace and how much you earn.

How Do You Arrange Paternity 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 you’d like your leave to start the day your child’s born. You do 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, use government form SC3 or your company’s own version.

What Are Your Employment Rights While You’re on Leave?

You have the same employment rights as your colleagues while on paternity leave, which means you

  • are entitled to any pay rises given while you are on leave

  • will continue to accrue holiday days

  • have the right to return to work when your paternity leave ends.

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.

  • 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.

  • You may be eligible for child benefit, universal credit and other financial support. Read more about governmental help for parents.

  • Company paternity schemes. Your workplace may offer benefits like additional paternity leave or more paternity pay, so it’s worth asking if there is anything additional on offer.

In Summary

Even if you aren’t eligible for paternity pay, you may be entitled to other benefits, such as shared parental leave and pay, child benefit and paternity schemes offered by your company as part of your remuneration. You are also entitled to take two 6.5-hour blocks of time off to accompany your partner to antenatal appointments.

What If You’re 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.


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 adoptions from overseas it is the date your child enters the United Kingdom or the day you want your leave or pay to start.

In the case of adoption, 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 United Kingdom (or an agreed number of days after this).

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

How to Claim

To claim paternity leave or paternity pay for local adoptions use government form SC4 or 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.

Shared Parental Leave and Pay for Adoptive Parents

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


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 (married, in a civil partnership or living as partners)

  • You’re responsible for the child together with your partner (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.

In Summary

You may still be eligible for paternity leave and pay if you are adopting or having a baby by surrogacy, or if you are the partner of an adopter. The eligibility criteria and procedure for claiming may differ slightly in these cases.

The Big Picture

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 other benefits and support are available instead to make things a little easier during this exciting time. If there’s a dispute about your paid maternity 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.

How we wrote this article
The information in this article is based on the expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the National Health Service (NHS). You can find a full list of sources used for this article below. The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.

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