Father and baby. Credit: Bigstock

Paternity leave

Paternity leave: an introduction

If your partner is expecting a child (or your partner is adopting a child) then you may be eligible for paternity leave and pay. There are two types of paternity leave: Ordinary Statutory Paternity Leave and Additional Paternity Leave.

Ordinary Statutory Paternity Leave

Ordinary Statutory Paternity Leave is an allowance to help you care for your child and the child’s mother. You can choose to take either one or two consecutive weeks of paternity leave, but not an odd number of days.

Who is eligible for Ordinary Statutory Paternity Leave?

To qualify for Ordinary Statutory Paternity Leave you must be:

  • employed by your employer for at least 26 weeks ending with the 15th week before the expected week of birth or ending with the week in which the adopter is notified of having been matched with the child;
  • an employee (rather than, for example, a contractor);
  • the child’s biological father and have, or expect to have, responsibility for the upbringing of the child, or
  • the mother’s partner, civil partner or spouse (includes same-sex relationships) and have, or expect to have, the main responsibility (apart from any responsibility of the mother) for the upbringing of the child, or
  • the partner, civil partner or spouse of the child’s adopter and have, or expect to have, the main responsibility (apart from the responsibility of the adopter) for bringing up the child.

How to take Ordinary Statutory Paternity Leave

To be eligible for Ordinary Statutory Paternity Leave it’s important that you inform your employer of your plans, and give them the correct amount of notice before your leave period begins. You should inform your employer, in writing, 15 weeks before the week the baby is due, or within seven days of being notified of being matched with a child by the adoption agency.

Shared parental leave

A new shared parental leave and pay system is set to be introduced for parents or adopters of children due, or adopted, on or after 5 April 2015. Mothers, fathers and adopters can opt toshare parental leave around their child’s birth or placement.

Read more about shared parental leave.

Key facts
  • Paternity leave gives new fathers the chance to spend time with their families.
  • You may be eligible for paternity leave, but not paternity pay.
  • You can use some of your partner’s maternity leave if she is returning to work.
  • You do not have to be the child’s biological father to qualify for paternity leave.

FAQs

Paternity leave

  • Can my wife or partner swap her maternity allowance with me?

    Yes. From 3 April 2011 parents have had greater freedom over how they allocate their maternity and paternity allowances.

  • How long is paternity leave?

    Paternity leave is either one or two consecutive weeks.

    You can choose, but you must choose complete weeks, rather than odd days.

  • Am I eligible for paternity leave even if I’m not the biological father?

    Yes. If you are going to be responsible for the child, then you are eligible for paternity leave.

  • Can I take time off for antenatal appointments?

    No. Currently only mothers are entitled to take time off for antenatal appointments, although your employer may allow you to take paid leave.

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