Ordinary Paternity Leave
If you are a father-to-be or you will be responsible with the mother for bringing up a child, you could have the right to Ordinary Paternity Leave. You may also qualify for Ordinary Statutory Paternity Pay. Find out what you are entitled to.
Company paternity leave schemes
Some employers have their own paternity leave arrangements which are more generous than the statutory entitlement. These will normally be included in your employment contract. You can always choose the Statutory (Ordinary and Additional) Paternity Leave arrangement if this suits you better and you qualify for it.
Time off for antenatal appointments
You do not have a legal right to time off to accompany your partner to antenatal appointments. The right to paid time off only applies to pregnant employees. However, many companies recognise this is an important time and let employees take paid time off or make up the time later.
Ordinary Paternity Leave entitlement
To qualify for Ordinary Paternity Leave you must be an employee. You must be taking the time off to support the mother or carer for the baby and intend to be fully involved in their upbringing. Rights to Ordinary Paternity Leave are extra to your normal holiday allowance.
To qualify for Ordinary Paternity Leave, you must have been with your employer for at least 26 weeks by either:
- the end of the 15th week before the start of the week when the baby is due
- the end of the week you are notified you are matched with your child
You must also be either the:
- biological father of the child
- mother's husband or partner (including same-sex relationships)
- child's adopter
- husband or partner (including same-sex relationships) of the child's adopter
If you are a worker you will not qualify for Ordinary Paternity Leave but may qualify for Ordinary Statutory Paternity Pay.
If you are an agency worker, office holder or subcontractor, you will not normally have the right to Ordinary Paternity Leave. However, you may be eligible for Ordinary Statutory Paternity Pay.
Ordinary Statutory Paternity Pay
Ordinary Statutory Paternity Pay is paid for up to two consecutive weeks, depending on how long you choose to take Ordinary Paternity Leave for.
What happens if you don't qualify
If you don't qualify for Ordinary Paternity Leave, your employer may be prepared to give you some time off, or you could take paid holiday.
If you qualify for Ordinary Paternity Leave but not Ordinary Statutory Paternity Pay you may qualify for income support while on Ordinary Paternity Leave.
- Holiday entitlements: the basics (employment section)
- Income Support (money, tax and benefits section)
- Expecting or bringing up children (money, tax and benefits section)
Length of Ordinary Paternity Leave
As long as you meet certain conditions you can take either one or two weeks' Ordinary Paternity Leave. You can't take odd days off and if you take two weeks they must be taken together.
A week is based on your usual working pattern. So if you work Mondays and Tuesdays only, a week would be two days or if you work Monday to Friday, a week would be five days.
Taking your Ordinary Paternity Leave
To qualify for Ordinary Paternity Leave, you must tell your employer:
- when the baby is due or when the child is expected to be placed with you for adoption
- whether you want one or two weeks' Ordinary Paternity Leave
- when you want your Ordinary Paternity Leave to start
You must give your employer the correct amount of notice. You should tell them in writing either:
- at least 15 weeks before the beginning of the week when the baby's due
- within seven days of being told by the adoption agency that you have been matched with a child
A simple way to give notice is to fill in a 'self-certificate'. You can download form SC3 'Becoming a parent', which works as a self-certificate.
Your Ordinary Paternity Leave can start on any day of the week (but not before the baby is born). It has to finish within 56 days of the baby's birth. If the baby is born before the week it was due, it must finish within 56 days of the first day of that week. You can start Ordinary Paternity Leave after a period of parental leave has ended.
If your partner has a multiple birth, you are only allowed one period of Ordinary Paternity Leave.
You should tell your employer the date of the birth or actual date of adoption placement in writing if your employer requests it. However, you do not have to give your employer any medical evidence of the pregnancy or birth to claim Ordinary Paternity Leave or Pay.
Not giving the correct notice
If you can't give the full notice period to your employer for a valid reason you should still give as much notice as possible. A valid reason might be, for example, if the baby arrives early or the adoption agency doesn't give you long enough notice.
You may still qualify if you meet the other conditions or would have if your baby had not been born early. If there is no valid reason (eg you simply forgot) you will lose your entitlement.
Changing your start date
You can change the date that your Ordinary Paternity Leave starts, as long as you give 28 days' notice.
Additional Paternity Leave
If your baby is due on or after 3 April 2011 you may have the right to take up to 26 weeks' Additional Paternity Leave. This is on top of your entitlement to two weeks' Ordinary Paternity Leave.
If you lose your baby
You can still take Ordinary Paternity Leave if your child is stillborn after 24 weeks of pregnancy or is born alive at any point of the pregnancy.
What to do if you have problems
If you have a problem taking your Ordinary Paternity Leave, talk to your employer first of all - it may be a simple misunderstanding. If this doesn't work, you may need to make a complaint using your employer’s grievance procedure.