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Paternity leave and pay

When your partner gives birth, you adopt a child or have a baby by surrogate, you might be entitled to paternity leave and paternity pay. 

What is Statutory Paternity Leave?

Statutory Paternity Leave is the time you can take off to support your partner.

If you’re an employee, you’re entitled to either one or two weeks of paid paternity leave.

Most agency and contract workers aren’t eligible.

  • You must take it as a whole week or consecutive weeks.
  • Your paternity leave is in addition to your normal holiday allowance.
  • Leave can’t start before the birth and must end within 56 days of the birth (or due date if the baby is early).
  • Some companies let their employees take more time off, so check your contract for details.

Statutory Paternity Leave is paid – this is called Statutory Paternity Pay.

Do you qualify?

To qualify for Statutory Paternity Leave you must be the:

  • child’s biological father
  • child’s adopter or intended parent (if using a surrogate)
  • child’s mother’s husband or partner (including same-sex partners).

You must also have been working for your employer for at least 26 continuous weeks by either:

  • the end of the 15th week before the week of the due date
  • the end of the week that you are told you’ve been matched with your child for adoption (for UK adoptions).

Shared Parental Leave

New parents who qualify in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland now have the option to use Shared Parental Leave.

Shared Parental Leave allows you to share up to 50 weeks’ parental leave and 37 weeks’ pay with your partner.

As long as your employer agrees, you can even take the leave in up to three separate blocks instead of taking it all in one go.

This allows you to switch arrangements if you need to.

Do you qualify?

The child’s mother must give binding notice to end her maternity leave for either of you to qualify for Shared Parental Leave.

You can start your leave while the mother is still on maternity leave as long as binding notice has been given.

The eligibility criteria for Shared Parental Leave are the same as Statutory Paternity Leave.

Plus, during the 66 weeks before the week the baby is due (or the week you’re matched with your adopted child) your partner must:

  • have been working for at least 26 weeks (they don’t need to be in a row)
  • have earned at least £390 in total in 13 of the 66 weeks (add up the highest paying weeks, they don’t need to be in a row).

You might also qualify for Statutory Shared Parental Pay.

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Paternity pay

The rate of Statutory Paternity Pay and Statutory Shared Parental Pay is the lowest of:

  • £151.97 a week
  • 90% of your average weekly earnings.

It’s paid by your employer who will deduct tax and National Insurance contributions before paying it to you.

Statutory Paternity Pay

To qualify for Statutory Paternity Pay, you must have worked for your employer for at least 26 continuous weeks before:

  • the 15th week before the baby is due
  • the end of the week the adoption agency matched you with a child.

You also must be earning at least £120 a week before tax and continue to work for your employer until the child is born (or placed with you).

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Statutory Shared Parental Pay

You can get Statutory Shared Parental Pay if:

  • you’re an employee or worker
  • you qualify for Statutory Paternity Pay and your partner qualifies for Statutory Maternity Pay, Maternity Allowance or Statutory Adoption Pay.

The child’s mother must end her maternity pay or Maternity Allowance for either of you to qualify for Statutory Shared Parental Pay.

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How to claim paternity leave and pay

Statutory Paternity Leave and Pay

To claim Statutory Paternity Leave and Pay, you must tell your employer that you’re going on paternity leave and requesting paternity pay at least 15 weeks before your baby’s due date.

If you’re adopting, you must tell them:

  • 28 days before you want your paternity pay to start, or
  • within seven days of being told by the adoption agency that you’ve been matched with a child for paternity leave.
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Shared Parental Leave and Pay

You must tell your employer if you want to start Shared Parental Leave or Pay.

Your partner must apply to their own employer.

You must give your employer notice in writing if you want to start Shared Parental Leave or Pay.

Notice can be given at the same time if you qualify for both.

If you change your mind about dates or how much Leave and Pay you plant to take, you must give at least eight weeks’ notice before the start of any leave.

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If you think your employer is being unfair

If your employer doesn’t think they need to give you paternity pay, or you feel they’re not paying the right amount:

  • find out if what’s happening is discrimination – there’s more information on the Citizens Advice website
  • talk to your employer – you might be able to resolve it informally. If you’re not sure where to start, try speaking to your trade union or employers rep if you have one – or for help, visit the Acas website
  • if you’re unable to resolve the issue, you can make a written complaint – find out more on the Citizens Advice website

If you don’t qualify for paternity leave and pay

  • Consider taking annual leave or unpaid parental leave instead.
  • Ask your employer if you can switch to a more flexible working pattern.
  • If you’re self-employed, find out more about taking time off to help with a new baby on the DAD.info website
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MoneyHelper is the new, easy way to get clear, free,
impartial help for all your money and pension choices.
Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

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