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Paternity leave and pay

Employees may be entitled to Paternity Leave and Pay if their partner is having a baby, adopting a child or having a baby through a surrogacy arrangement.

Key points

Paternity leave is available to employees who:

  • have or expect to have responsibility for the child's upbringing
  • are the biological father of the child or the mother's husband or partner (including same sex relationships)
  • have worked continuously for their employer for 26 weeks ending with the 15th week before the baby is due, or the end of the week in which the child's adopter is notified of being matched with the child (UK adoption), or the date the child enters the UK (overseas adoptions).

Employees should tell their employer as soon as possible that they wish to take paternity leave, but no later than the end of the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth. They should say when the baby is due, if they're going to take one or two weeks off, and when they expect their paternity leave to start. Those who are eligible can choose to take either one week or two consecutive weeks' paid paternity leave (not odd days).

Employees will need to take their paternity leave within 56 days of the actual date of birth of the child. Paternity leave can't start until the birth of the baby; employees may be able to take some annual leave before.

A period of Paternity leave when adopting a child can start:

  • On the date of placement.
  • An agreed number of days after the date of placement.
  • On the date the child arrives in the UK or an agreed number of days after (for overseas adoption).
  • The day the child is born or the day after for surrogate parents.

Paternity pay

Employees may be entitled to Statutory Paternity Pay (from April 2015 the rate is £139.58 per week  or 90 per cent of your average weekly earning, if that is less). Employers may, however, give more and this may form part of the terms and conditions of employment.

Shared Parental Leave and pay

Shared Parental Leave provides parents with the opportunity to consider the best arrangements to care for their child during the child's first year. It enables eligible parents to share the caring evenly or have one parent taking the main caring role.

Leave for antenatal appointments

Fathers and partners

Fathers, partners and civil partners of a pregnant woman are entitled to unpaid time off during working hours to accompany her to 2 ante-natal appointments. This includes the intended parents if they're having a baby through a surrogacy arrangement.

There is no legal right to paid time off for antenatal appointments. However, employers may allow this time off with pay under the terms and conditions of employment, or allow employees to take annual leave, swap shifts or make up time.


The main adopter will be able to take paid time off for up to 5 adoption appointments. The secondary adopter will be entitled to take unpaid time off for up to 2 appointments.

The right to 2 unpaid antenatal appointments will also extend to those who will become parents though a surrogacy arrangement, if they expect to satisfy the conditions for, and intend to apply for, a Parental Order for the child.

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