Money Advice Service

When your partner gives birth or when you adopt a child or have a baby by surrogate, you may be entitled to paternity leave and paternity pay so you can help look after your new arrival.

What is Statutory Paternity Leave?

Statutory Paternity Leave is the time you can take off to support your partner.

If you’re an employee, you’re entitled to either one or two weeks of paid paternity leave.

Most agency and contract workers aren’t eligible:

  • you must take it as a whole week or consecutive weeks
  • your paternity leave is in addition to your normal holiday allowance
  • leave cannot start before the birth and must end within 56 days of the birth (or due date if the baby is early)
  • some companies let their employees take more time off, so check your contract for details.

Statutory Paternity Leave is paid – this is called Statutory Paternity Pay.

Are you eligible?

To qualify for Statutory Paternity Leave you must be the:

  • child’s biological father
  • child’s adopter or intended parent (if using a surrogate)
  • child’s mother’s husband or partner (including same-sex partners).

You must also have been working for your employer for at least 26 continuous weeks by either:

  • the end of the 15th week before the week of the due date
  • the end of the week that you are told you’ve been matched with your child for adoption (for UK adoptions).

Shared Parental Leave

New parents who are eligible in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland now have the option to use Shared Parental Leave.

Shared Parental Leave allows you to share up to 50 weeks’ parental leave and 37 weeks’ pay with your partner.

As long as your employer agrees, you can even take the leave in up to three separate blocks instead of taking it all in one go.

This allows you to switch arrangements if you need to.

Are you eligible?

The child’s mother must give binding notice to end her maternity leave for either of you to be eligible for Shared Parental Leave.

You can start your leave while the mother is still on maternity leave as long as binding notice has been given.

The eligibility criteria for Shared Parental Leave are the same as Statutory Paternity Leave.

In addition, during the 66 weeks before the week the baby is due (or the week you’re matched with your adopted child) your partner must:

  • have been working for at least 26 weeks (they don’t need to be in a row)
  • have earned at least £390 in total in 13 of the 66 weeks (add up the highest paying weeks, they don’t need to be in a row).

You might also be eligible for Statutory Shared Parental Pay.

In Northern Ireland, please visit NI Direct.

Paternity pay

The rate of Statutory Paternity Pay and Statutory Shared Parental Pay is the lowest of:

  • £145.18 per week
  • 90% of your average weekly earnings

It’s paid by your employer who will deduct tax and National Insurance contributions before paying it to you.

Statutory Paternity Pay

To qualify for Statutory Paternity Pay, you must have worked for your employer for at least 26 continuous weeks before:

  • the 15th week before the baby is due
  • the end of the week the adoption agency matched you with a child.

You also must be earning at least £116 a week before tax and continue to work for your employer until the child is born (or placed with you).

Find out more about Statutory Paternity Pay on GOV.UK (England, Scotland and Wales).

Statutory Shared Parental Pay

You can get Statutory Shared Parental Pay if:

  • you’re an employee or worker
  • you’re eligible for Statutory Paternity Pay and your partner is eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay, Maternity Allowance or Statutory Adoption Pay

The child’s mother must end her maternity pay or Maternity Allowance for either of you to be eligible for Statutory Shared Parental Pay.

How to claim paternity leave and pay

Statutory Paternity Leave and Pay

To claim Statutory Paternity Leave and Pay, you must tell your employer that you’re going on paternity leave and requesting paternity pay at least 15 weeks before your baby’s due date.

If you’re adopting, you must tell them:

  • 28 days before you want your paternity pay to start
  • within seven days of being told by the adoption agency that you’ve been matched with a child for paternity leave

You can download a claim form (form SC3 or SC4) at GOV.UK.

Shared Parental Leave and Pay

You must tell your employer if you want to start Shared Parental Leave or Pay.

Your partner must apply to their own employer.

You must give your employer notice in writing if you want to start Shared Parental Leave or Pay.

Notice can be given at the same time if you’re eligible for both.

If you change your mind about dates or how much Leave and Pay you plant to take, you must give at least eight weeks’ notice before the start of any leave.

You can download an application form at GOV.UK.

If you think your employer is being unfair

If your employer doesn’t think they need to give you paternity pay, or you feel they’re not paying the right amount:

  1. find out if what’s happening is discrimination.
  2. talk to your employer. You might be able to resolve it informally. If you’re not sure where to start, Acas can help, or try speaking to your trade union or employers rep if you have one.
  3. if you’re unable to resolve the issue, you can make a written complaint.

For further help, contact:

If you don’t qualify for paternity leave and pay

  • consider taking annual leave or unpaid parental leave instead.
  • ask your employer if you can switch to a more flexible working pattern.
  • self-employed? Find out more about taking time off to help with a new baby on

This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.