Statutory paternity pay is paid to you by your employer so you can take time off work following the birth or adoption of a child to support your partner. Paternity pay can be paid to men and women.
Employers must pay employees on paternity leave paid whatever is the lower of the standard rate (visit the government pages for the current rate), or 90% of your average pre-tax weekly earning.
You can receive paternity pay for up to two consecutive weeks if you are eligible.
You will be paid paternity pay in the same way as your normal wages, so tax and national insurance are deducted in the usual way.
How to qualify for ordinary paternity leave
There are criteria which must be met to qualify for paternity pay.
- You must be an employee.
- If your partner is pregnant, you must 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.
- You must have average weekly earnings at or above £120 weekly before tax (2021-22 lower earnings limit, reviewed each year, visit the government pages for the current rate) 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 also must tell your employer:
- the date the baby is due or the relevant adoption dates;
- 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.
Paternity 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 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 paternity leave does not affect your total length of service with the employer.
Shared parental leave
Shared parental leave and pay was introduced for parents or adopters of children so that the mother or primary adopter can choose to share 50 weeks of their leave with their partner through shared parental leave. Read more about shared parental leave.
Can I claim paternity pay if we adopt a child?
Yes, you have the same paternity leave and pay rights as any other parent.
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 and can be paid to men and women. UNISON often refers to it as maternity support leave and pay, rather than ‘paternity’, as this name is more accurate. The statutory entitlement is still called ‘paternity’.
When can I claim my statutory paternity pay?
Your paternity pay will start with your paternity leave, which can start from the date your child is born or relevant adoption dates. You don’t have to take your paternity leave and pay immediately, but you must use your paternity leave and pay allowance within 56 days of the birth. If you want to change the start date already given to your employer, you must give at least 28 days’ notice.