Paternity Leave

Overview

If you’re an employee, you can take both:

You must start and end Ordinary Paternity Leave within 56 days of your baby’s arrival.

You have more than one baby

If your partner has a multiple birth, for example twins, you’ll only get one period of paternity leave.

You don’t have a legal right to time off for antenatal appointments but speak to your employer as you may be able to come to an arrangement.

If you lose your child

You can take Ordinary Paternity Leave if your child is stillborn after 24 weeks of pregnancy or born alive at any point of the pregnancy.

What you’ll get

Ordinary Paternity Leave

You can choose to take either 1 or 2 weeks of Ordinary Paternity Leave.

You can’t take odd days off and if you take 2 weeks, you must take them together.

If you don’t work full time, a week’s leave is the same amount of days that you normally work in a week. For example, if you only work Mondays and Tuesdays, a week is 2 days.

You must start and end Ordinary Paternity Leave within 56 days of your baby’s arrival.

If your child was due or placed for adoption on or after 5 April 2015, you may also be entitled to Shared Parental Leave.

Eligibility

Ordinary Paternity Leave

You must have worked for your employer for at least 26 weeks by either:

  • the end of the 15th week before the start of the week when your baby is due
  • the end of the week you’re told you’re matched with your adopted child
  • the date your child enters Great Britain (if you’re adopting from overseas)

You must also be one of the following:

  • the biological father of the child
  • the mother’s husband or partner (including civil partnerships)
  • the child’s adopter
  • the husband or partner (including civil partnerships) of the child’s adopter

If your child was due or placed for adoption on or after 5 April 2015, you may also be entitled to Shared Parental Leave.

How to claim

Ordinary Paternity Leave

Fill in form SC3 below to claim your paternity leave and give it to your employer:

  • at least 15 weeks before the beginning of the week when your baby’s due
  • within 7 days of being matched with a child if you’re adopting

You don’t have to provide medical evidence of the pregnancy or birth to claim Ordinary Paternity Leave.

If your child was due or placed for adoption on or after 5 April 2015, you may also be entitled to Shared Parental Leave.

Returning to work

You have the right to return to your job on the same terms and conditions you were on before taking Paternity Leave.

If you can’t return to your original job, ie your job no longer exists, your employer must offer you other suitable work.

If you want to return to work early, you must tell your employer at least 6 weeks before you come back.

If you don’t do this, your employer can refuse your return until whichever date is earlier:

  • 6 weeks after you ask to return
  • your original return date

Further information

Antenatal appointments

Under the Children and Families Act 2014 , fathers and partners have the right to take unpaid time off work to accompany expectant mothers to up to two antenatal appointments.

Unpaid leave

Your employer can insist you take unpaid leave if:

  • you don’t give 6 weeks’ notice
  • your change in circumstances is not practical for them

Your unpaid leave will start on the date your paternity leave was due to start and will end after 6 weeks or the date your paternity leave was due to end (whichever is earlier).

Company paternity leave schemes

Your employer may have their own paternity leave scheme. You can choose the government’s statutory Paternity Leave scheme if it suits you better and you qualify for it.

Keeping in touch days

You can work up to 20 days during your Shared Parental Leave if both you and your employer agree. You’ll need to agree with your employer what work you’ll do and how much pay you’ll get.

If you disagree with the decision

If your application for Paternity Leave is turned down, talk to your employer and explain your rights. You could ask for advice from your trade union or a voluntary organisation like Citizens Advice.

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This page was last updated on 10/5/2015

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