Paternity leave: everything you need to know

Don’t panic! While it might seem complicated, it’s really not. We break down the key points to make this wonderful part of becoming a dad easy.

should i take paternity leave


The birth of a child is one of the most exciting times in a parent’s life and an unforgettable experience. But between building the cot, baby-proofing the house and prenatal appointments, it’s important to remember to organise paternity leave and pay for when the moment arrives.

Paul Kelly (pictured below), partner and head of the Employment team at Blacks Solicitors, outlines the key points to be aware of when arranging paternity leave including how to apply and who is eligible.

Who is eligible?

The biological parent of a child is not the only person who can benefit from paternity leave. The partner, spouse, or civil partner of the mother is also entitled to parental leave, including same sex couples, where one partner of any gender can take paternity leave and pay. When it comes to adoption and surrogacy, the partner, spouse, or civil partner of the primary adopter or other parent has the same entitlement to paternity leave, but the application process and timeframe slightly differ.

People who meet these criteria may be entitled to one or two weeks of paid paternity leave and paternity pay or shared parental leave and pay. Any employee that has been employed for at least 26 weeks that has given the correct notice is entitled to paternity leave, but to qualify for paternity pay there are additional requirements such as earning a certain wage.

The date from which paternity leave begins is malleable but cannot begin before the birth of the child. An employee must take all their paternity leave in one go, and it cannot be split up.

How do I apply?

It is important to remember that to qualify for paternity leave, the application must meet certain conditions. An employee must provide the child’s due date, the date from which the leave is requested to begin and whether one or two weeks are required, and this information must be provided with at least 15 weeks’ notice from the child’s due date.

The employer can request this application in writing and may use the SC3 form from HM Revenue and Customs or their own documentation, and employees can apply for both paternity leave and paternity pay at the same time.

Paternity pay is delivered in the same manner as usual wages, be that weekly or monthly, with Statutory Paternity Pay valued at £151.97 or 90% of the employee’s weekly earnings, whichever is lower. Although, some employers do have additional parental leave and pay policies that may also be applied.

paternity leave guide

Things to remember

Employees who take paternity leave are still entitled to pay rises, the accrue of holidays, and returning to work as ensured through employment rights legislation. In addition to paternity leave, an employee is entitled to time off for two antenatal appointments with the other parent or surrogate mother. In the case of adoption, this applies to two adoption appointments instead.

Arrangements for adoption and surrogacy vary from those of parental leave, including a requirement for different forms to be completed. Although eligibility is the same, the dates from which leave begins can be different depending on the circumstances, and international adoption comes with additional variations.

It is important to note that the employee must apply for paternity leave and pay within the designated time frame to ensure that their request, if eligible, is accepted. With regards to paternity pay, any change to the requested start date must be given to the employer with 28 days notice.

Read more:

How John Lewis are leading the way on paternity leave

Why enhanced paternity leave from the FSCS was perfect for this first-time dad

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