Do I have to pay a new dad for paternity leave?

I run a building company employing three people. I recently took on a new employee to replace someone who had moved away. The new guy has been with us since the start of the year and is settling in well but he just told me he’s going to be a dad for the first time in the summer. I can’t say for certain that he would’ve known this when I took him on but if he did know should he have told me? Do I now have to give him two weeks paternity leave in the summer (usually one of our busiest times)?  And is there any other  sort of leave he’s entitled to that I would have to grant? I need to know whether he’s going to be available or not.

The word dad displayed with a level and a blue hardhat


At we love answering your questions all the time about any issue around fatherhood, work or both. That’s why we’ve assembled a team of experts to answer your queries and make your life that bit easier.

We call them….The Dadvengers.

This week Kerry Howard, portfolio people director at HR experts People Puzzles, helps an employers who’s not sure about his responsibilities to a new start who is also set to be a new dad.

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It’s always hard when you run a small business and rely heavily on the staff you employ.  It is great that you have made a good hire who is settling in well. This, in itself can be difficult!

With regards to his impending fatherhood, you are right in that he may not have known when you took him on and even if he did, there is nothing to say that he should have declared this.

Paternity leave

The rules on paternity leave are similar to maternity. To be entitled to paternity leave he should have been working for you for 26 weeks in the “qualifying week”. This is the 15th week before the baby is due.  You will therefore need the baby’s due date to calculate this.  In addition, the rules also state that he should be the baby’s father, or the husband or partner of the mother of the baby.

To be eligible for paternity leave he must also be an employee, not a contractor or self employed.  He will have to provide you with the required notice, which is currently at the 15th week before the baby is due. He should give you the due date of the baby and also the date that he would like his leave to start, (appreciating that he won’t know the date for certain, but he should indicate if he wants his leave to start from the date the baby is born, or some other date). And he should also inform you if he is intending to take one or two weeks paternity leave. Currently paternity leave is paid at a statutory rate which is 90% of his earnings or £148.68 per week, whichever is lower. These rates may change on 6th April 2020, so you should check back after this.

He will also be entitled to other time off, including time off to attend up to two ante natal appointments. This time is unpaid.

Shared Parental Leave

Some couples also decide to share what was formerly maternity leave, and this is now known as Shared Parental Leave.  This means that he could potentially share up to 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of pay, with his partner. To qualify for this, he will need to have been employed by you for 26 weeks by the 15th week before the due date of the baby. He could request this leave in blocks to be used during the first year of the child’s life.  Payment is made at the statutory rate of £148.68 per week or 90% of his earnings, whichever is lower.

In addition, parents are entitled to take unpaid time off for family or dependents. This is unpaid time off and is up to 18 weeks leave per child to be used up to their 18th birthday.

I do hope that this helps. If you have any further questions or need any help calculating dates, let us know.


Kerry Howard is a People Director at People Puzzles, who provide part time senior HR resource for ambitious mid tier businesses. They work collaboratively to manage and solve the people issues so that businesses can continue to thrive and grow.

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