Can I take leave as a new father?
You can take either one or two weeks’ paternity leave and receive paternity pay if you are:
- the biological father of a new-born child; or
- the mother’s husband or partner.
You may also be able to take paternity leave if you are an adoptive parent as long as you are not taking adoption leave.
You must also:
- be responsible (or expect to be responsible) for bringing up the child; and
- have worked for your employer for at least 26 weeks by the 15th week before the child is due to be born or adopted.
Your employer can ask you to provide a ‘self-certificate’ (a signed declaration) to prove you are entitled to paternity leave. You do this by filling in form SC3, ‘Becoming a Parent’, which you can get from HMRC (see ‘Further help’ for contact details).
You can choose to take paternity leave as either one week or two weeks together (but not odd days adding up to two weeks). You can choose to start your paternity leave:
- on the date your child was born or adopted (even if this is earlier or later than expected); or
- a fixed number of days (you choose the number) after your child has been born or adopted; or
- on a set date that you have told your employer about when you applied for paternity leave. The date must fall after the day the child is due to be born or adopted.
However, your leave must have finished within:
- 56 days of the actual date your child was born or adopted; or
- if your child was born earlier than expected, the period starting on the actual date your child was born and ending up to 56 days after the first day of the expected week of childbirth.
You can take only one period of leave at a time, no matter how many children are born or adopted at the same time. (Having twins doesn’t mean you can take two periods of leave.)
You can’t take both paternity and adoption leave.
During paternity leave, you are entitled to receive Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP) from your employer, as long as you have been employed for at least 26 weeks before the 15th week before your child is due to be born or adopted.
SPP is currently paid at £124.88 a week, or 90 per cent of your average weekly earnings if you earn less than £124.98 a week.
During or before the 15th week before your child is expected to be born or adopted (or as soon as reasonably practical) you must tell your employer:
- the week your child is due to be born or adopted;
- whether you want to take one or two weeks’ leave;
- when you want your leave to start.
You can change the date you want your paternity leave (and SPP) to start by giving your employer 28 days’ notice (unless this is really not possible). Your employer can insist that you give them written notice of when you want to take paternity leave.
During your leave, you are entitled to your normal terms and conditions of employment, except for the ones relating to wages and salary (because this is when you are receiving SPP). Your contract of employment may give you the right to paternity pay (contractual paternity pay). If you get contractual paternity pay, your SPP will be reduced.
The law says you must not be treated unfairly or dismissed for taking or wanting to take paternity leave. At the end of your paternity leave, you are entitled to return to the job you had before. This also applies where paternity leave is followed by parental leave of four weeks or less (see ‘What other leave can I get after my child is born or adopted?’).
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- What are my rights if I work part-time?
- What are my rights if I’m having a baby?
- Can I take leave as a new father?
- What are my rights if I'm adopting a child?
- Can I change my working arrangements if I have children?
- Can I change my working arrangements if I care for an adult?
- Can I take time off if I am someone's carer?
- Further help with employment law
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