Father and baby. Credit: Bigstock

Paternity pay

Ordinary paternity pay

Ordinary statutory paternity pay is £139.58 a week. If your average weekly earnings are less than £139.58 a week, you will be paid 90% of your average pay.

You will be paid paternity pay in the same way as your normal wages. Paternity pay is treated just like your normal pay, so tax and national insurance are deducted in the usual way.

There are criteria which must be met to qualify for ordinary paternity pay.

  • You must be an employee.
  • If your partner is pregnant, you must have have worked for your employer for 26 weeks at the end of the 15th week before  the baby is due.
  • If you are adopting, you must have worked for your employer for 26 weeks when you are notified that you are matched with your child.
  • In either case, you must continue to be employed with that employer until the day that your child is born or adopted.
  • You may be the child’s biological father, or adopter, or the spouse, civil partner or partner of the mother or adopter, and have the main responsibility (with the mother) for bringing up the child.
  • Your must have normal weekly earnings of at least £112 for the eight weeks before the 15th week a birth is due, or the week in which you are notified of being matched with the child for adoption.

You are also entitled to up to two consecutive weeks ordinary paternity leave.

How to qualify for ordinary paternity leave

You must tell your employer:

  • the date the baby is due, or the date on which the adoption was notified and the date it is due to start;
  • if you want to take one or two weeks leave;
  • when you want the leave to start.

You must give these details to your employer in writing 15 weeks before the start of the week that the baby is due or within seven days of being notified of a match for adoption.

Ordinary paternal leave can start on any day of the week- but not before the baby is born – and must be taken within 56 days of the birth or placement.

Your rights while on ordinary paternity leave

You are entitled to a number of rights at work while you are on ordinary paternity leave:

  • your contract of employment remains in force for all purposes except pay;
  • you are entitled to resume working in the same job as before, on terms and conditions that are no less favourable;
  • time spent on ordinary paternity leave does not affect your total length of service with the employer.

Additional paternity leave and pay

Recent changes in legislation mean that parents have more flexibility in how they use their maternity and paternity entitlements.

In particular, mothers can pass part of their maternity pay entitlement to the other parent if the mother returns to work, although the actual amount received will be calculated by reference to the partner’s and not the mother’s earnings.

Additional paternity leave is only available if the mother has returned to work.

Additional paternity pay is only available for the period during which the mother would have been entitled to maternity pay.

Eligible employees may take up to 26 weeks of leave. The qualifying time periods and relationship to the child are the same as for ordinary paternity pay, but, in addition, the child’s mother or adopter must be entitled to statutory maternity leave, maternity pay or allowance or statutory adoption leave or pay.

Additional paternity leave can be taken any time from 20 weeks after the child is born, can last up to a maximum of 26 weeks and must have finished by the child’s first birthday.

If you are adopting a child, additional paternity leave can start any time from 20 weeks after the child starts living with you and must end at the latest 52 weeks after the child starts living with you.

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 to share parental leave around their child’s birth or placement. Read more about shared parental leave.

Key facts
  • Paternity pay is a paid allowance that gives fathers and individuals responsible for bringing up a child with the mother time off from work so they can be with the child after birth or adoption.
  • Ordinary statutory paternity pay is £136.78 a week. If your average weekly earnings are less than £136.78 a week, you will get 90% of your average pay.
  • Mothers can pass part of their maternity pay entitlement to the other parent if the mother returns to work.


Paternity pay

  • When can I claim my ordinary statutory paternity pay?

    Your paternity pay can start from the date your child is born. You don’t have to take your paternity leave and pay immediately, but you must use your paternity allowance within 56 days from the child’s birth date.

  • Do all types of workers qualify for paternity pay?

    No. Only employees qualify for statutory paternity pay. Workers, agency temps, casual staff and self-employed people are not eligible.

  • Do I have to be married to qualify for paternity pay?

    No. Paternity pay and leave applies to both heterosexual and same-sex couples and you may be married, unmarried, co-habiting or in a civil partnership.

  • It is called paternity pay: does that mean I have to be the father, or a man?

    No. Paternity pay is available to civil partners, partners or spouses, as well as biological fathers, where they have main caring responsibilities. It also comes into play for couples who are adopting. And it covers same-sex couples.

  • Can I claim paternity pay if we adopt a child?

    Yes, you have the same paternity leave and pay rights as any other parent.