What is paternity leave?

Much is written about maternity leave, but paternity leave seems to be less discussed.  It could be that many people don’t really understand what it means, so we have put together a very quick guide together about paternity leave, with links to the relevant Government information that will help or explain in more detail.

What is Paternity Leave

When you take time off because your partner’s having a baby, adopting a child or having a baby through a surrogacy arrangement you might be eligible for:

Paternity Leave

You could get either 1 or 2 week’s. You get the same amount of leave if your partner has a multiple birth (such as twins).

You must take your leave in one go. A week is the same amount of days that you normally work in a week, for example if you only work on Mondays and Tuesdays a week is 2 days.

Leave can’t start before the birth.

  • It must end within 56 days of the birth.
  • You must give your employer 28 days’ notice if you want to change your start date.

You don’t have to give a precise date when you want to take leave (such as 1 February). Instead you can give the general time, including the day of the birth or 1 week after the birth.

Shared Parental Leave

You may also be eligible for Shared Parental Leave (SPL) if your child was due or placed for adoption on or after 5 April 2015.

You can’t take Paternity Leave after you take SPL.

Leave for antenatal appointments

You can take unpaid leave to accompany a pregnant woman to 2 antenatal appointments if you’re:

  • the baby’s father
  • the expectant mother’s spouse or civil partner
  • in a long-term relationship with the expectant mother
  • the intended parent (if you’re having a baby through a surrogacy arrangement)

You can take up to 6 and a half hours per appointment. Your employer can choose to give you longer.

How to claim Paternity Leave

You must tell your employer at least 15 weeks before the week the baby is expected:

  • the baby’s due date
  • when you want your leave to start, for example the day of the birth or the week after the birth
  • if you want 1 or 2 weeks’ leave

Your employer can ask for this in writing. You can ask for Paternity Pay at the same time, if you use form SC3 (or your employer’s own version).


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