Paternity Leave Rights in the UK

Paternity Leave Rights

Traditionally, working couples who have a baby meant that only mum would get time off work. Now in the UK new dads also get leave from work for two weeks. This paternity leave allows a new dad to bond with their new born as well as giving them time to support their partner.

Paternity leave was introduced in the UK in 2003. Paternity leave is for two weeks paid at a minimum of £139,58 a week. It's not much but it is something.

Statutory Paternity Leave

The amount of paternity leave is the same even if they have more than one child (eg twins).

Unlike maternity leave, paternity leave can’t start before the birth. The start date must be one of the following:

  • the actual date of birth
  • an agreed number of days after the birth
  • an agreed number of days after the expected week of childbirth

Leave must finish within 56 days of the birth (or due date if the baby is early). 

Statutory Paternity Pay

Statutory Paternity Pay for eligible employees is either £139.58 a week or 90% of their average weekly earnings (whichever is lower). Tax and National Insurance need to be deducted.

Eligibility for Paternity Leave

The law states that if you have been employed by the same employer since before your partner became pregnant, you'll probably be eligible for paternity leave - but you'll need to still be employed by them when the baby is born.

The precise criteria for paternity leave eligibility are:

  • you must have a contract of employment (most agency workers and contractors are not eligible)
  • you must have been working for the same employer for 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the beginning of the week the baby is due (translation - about when the baby was conceived)
  • you must be either the biological father, the mother's father or partner (counts for same-sex couples too), the child's adopter or the husband or partner of the child's adopter
  • you will be involved in the care of the child and are taking time off to care for the baby or support the mother

Note: If you changed jobs very shortly before the pregnancy, you will need to check the dates.

Claiming paternity leave

To claim paternity leave you must give your employer written notice 15 week before the due date.

Your letter to your employer must state:

  • when you baby is due
  • whether you want to take one week or two weeks paternity leave
  • when you want your paternity leave to start

In the case of adoption you must give your employer 7 days notice after the adoption agency say they have found a match for you and your partner.

What if you not eligible for Paternity Leave?

If you don't qualify for paternity leave you have a few options:

  1. you can take unpaid emergency leave to be at the birth (this is a legal right)
  2. you can take unpaid leave for a time agreed between you and your employer
  3. you can take annual leave, if you have any annual leave left

For more information about paternity leave and pay please visit

Maternity Leave Rights in the UK

To read about the maternity leave rights a mother has in the UK when she is pregnant please visit Maternity Leave Rights in the UK on