Paternity Leave

Given that it’s the mum who gives birth, it’s perhaps unsurprising that maternity leave tends to be thought of as more important than paternity leave. But there’s growing evidence that dads’ taking time off in the early weeks and months of their children’s lives has a significant positive impact on families – probably more so than you might expect

Paternity leave in UK, like other countries of the world, is a period of absence from work granted to a father after or shortly before the birth of his child.In other words 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:

 

You may not get both leave and pay, and there are rules on how to claim and when your leave can start.

There are two types of parenting leave that governments and employers can make available to new dads and mums.

The first type of leave is designed to be taken (normally in one block) straight after the birth of a child.  Maternity leave for mothers is intended to help them recover from the birth and establish a relationship with their newborn. Paternity leave for dads is to enable them to support the mother in the first few weeks, and also to establish a relationship with baby.

The UK’s parenting leave system is based on a maternity/paternity leave model. Mums receive up to 52 weeks’ maternity leave, of which the first 6 weeks must be paid at 90% of salary and the remaining 33 weeks at a minimum statutory rate; dads get just 2 weeks’ paternity leave, paid at a minimum statutory rate (see below).

The second type of leave is parental leave, which is taken by either or both parents in order to look after the baby during its first year.

In the Nordic countries, well-paid parental leave forms the majority of the leave available to parents, and a significant proportion of it is earmarked specifically for dads in the form of a ‘daddy quota’; Sweden has increased this to 90 days.

Since 2015 eligible mothers in the UK have been able to transfer all but the first two weeks of their maternity leave to their partners (if also eligible) under so-called ‘shared parental leave’ – but dads still have no individual entitlement to parental leave, and the rate of pay remains at employers’ discretion.

Around 90% of UK fathers take formal leave of some kind near the time of their child’s birth, although in many cases this includes some annual leave – and research shows that this brings all sorts of benefits to the family.

First, it affects mothers’ health and wellbeing. An analysis of data on more than 4,000 women from an English national maternity survey found that mums whose partners had taken no paternity leave were more likely to report feeling ill or unwell at three months, and mothers with more than one child whose partners took no leave also reported much higher rates of post-natal depression.

Secondly, dads who take paternity leave tend to do more hands-on caring for their babies. One UK study found that fathers who took formal leave were 25% more likely to change nappies and 19% more likely to feed their 8-12 month old babies and to get up to them at night. This was irrespective of their commitment to parenting before the child’s birth, or the time mothers or other family members spent with the children.

Crucially, evidence suggests that this kind of paternal involvement, if established during the early weeks, can last through to toddlerhood and beyond. And this greater sharing of the hands-on caring during paternity leave and beyond can improve your relationship as a couple.

Paternity Leave:

You must:

The ‘qualifying week’ is the 15th week before the baby is due. This is different if you adopt.

Paternity Pay:

You must:

The ‘qualifying week’ is the 15th week before the baby is due. This is different if you adopt.

The statutory weekly rate of Paternity Pay is £148.68, or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is lower).

Any money you get is paid in the same way as your wages, for example monthly or weekly. Tax and National Insurance will be deducted

 Employment rights:

You have your  employment rights  and they are protected while on paternity leave. This includes your right to:

  • pay rises
  • build up (accrue) holiday
  • return to work

You can get time off to accompany your partner (or the surrogate mother) to 2 antenatal appointments.

If you’re adopting a child, you can get time off to attend 2 adoption appointments after you’ve been matched with a child.

You can choose to take either 1 or 2 weeks. 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, a week is 2 days if you only work on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Start and end dates:

Leave cannot 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 do not have to give a precise date when you want to take leave (for example 1 February). Instead you can give a general time, such as the day of the birth or 1 week after the birth.

The rules are different if you adopt.

Shared Parental Leave:

You may also be eligible for Shared Parental Leave (SPL). You cannot 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.

You can apply for leave immediately if you’re a permanent employee. You’ll need to have been doing a job for 12 weeks before you qualify if you’re an agency worker.

Start and end dates:

The money is usually paid while you’re on leave. Your employer must confirm the start and end dates for your Paternity Pay when you claim it.

To change the start date you must give your employer 28 days’ notice.

You could get more pay if your employer has a company paternity scheme – they cannot offer you less than the statutory amounts.

Eligibility:

You must be taking time off to look after the child and be one of the following:

  • the father
  • the husband or partner of the mother (or adopter) – this includes same-sex partners
  • the child’s adopter
  • the intended parent (if you’re having a baby through a surrogacy arrangement)

There are extra conditions you need to meet to qualify for leave and pay.

You cannot get Paternity Pay and Leave if you’ve taken paid time off to attend adoption appointments.

If you lose your baby:

You can still get Paternity Leave or Pay if your baby is:

  • stillborn from 24 weeks of pregnancy
  • born alive at any point during the pregnancy

If you’re not eligible:

Your employer must tell you within 28 days if you do not qualify and why using form SPP1.

How to claim:

Claim Paternity Leave and Pay through your employer. You do not need to give proof of the pregnancy or birth.

The rules and forms are different if you adopt.

Paternity Leave

At least 15 weeks before the baby is due, tell your employer:

  • the 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.

How to claim – Paternity Leave or Pay

You must use form SC4 (or your employer’s own version) for:

  • leave – within 7 days of your co-adopter or partner being matched with a child
  • pay – 28 days before you want your pay to start

For overseas adoptions the form and notice period is different. The process is explained on form SC5.

Proof of adoption:

You must give your employer proof of adoption to qualify for Paternity Pay. Proof is not needed for Paternity Leave unless your employer asks for it.

Proof can be a letter from your adoption agency or the matching certificate.

You’ll need to provide this information within 28 days.

Surrogacy arrangements:

To be eligible for Paternity Pay and Leave if you use a surrogate to have a baby, you must:

  • be in a couple
  • be responsible for the child (with your partner)
  • have worked for your employer continuously for at least 26 weeks by the end of the ‘qualifying week’ (the 15th week before the baby is due)

At least 15 weeks before the due date, tell your employer when the baby is due and when you want to start your leave – they may ask for this in writing.

Your employer may ask for a written statement to confirm you intend to apply for a parental order in the 6 months after the child’s birth. You must sign this in the presence of a legal professional.

You cannot get Paternity Leave if you take Shared Parental Leave.

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