Paternity Leave

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Health Assured team

29 September 2021

All employees have a legal right to paternity leave in the UK, providing they meet the criteria. Like mothers-to-be, this time helps employees to support their new child and partner.

This guide will consider the process from an employer perspective. And cover how long paternity leave is, who is eligible and laws you as an employer have a right to comply with.

What is paternity leave?

As an employer, you must allow your employees to take paternity leave. Employees are legally entitled to paternity leave, providing they are either:

  • The child’s father.
  • The husband or partner of the mother (including same-sex partners).
  • The adopter of the child.
  • The intended father of the child (surrogate pregnancies).

The employee must also:

  • Be an employee of the organisation.
  • Provide the correct paternity leave notice period (at least 15 weeks before the baby is due).
  • Have been in continuous employment with the employer for at least 26 weeks.

When are employees not eligible for paternity leave?

If employees fail to meet any of the criteria above, they aren't eligible for paternity leave. You’ll need to tell them why they aren’t eligible within 28 days using an SPP1 form.

Employees also won't be eligible for paternity pay if they have applied for shared parental leave. Shared parental leave allows both parents to share up to 50 weeks off and up to 37 weeks of pay between them. The UK government website offers more information on shared parental leave and pay.

How long is paternity leave in the UK?

UK employers must offer employees one or two weeks of statutory paternity leave.

Employees must take paternity leave all at once. They can’t choose to take days off individually.

The time off applies to the number of hours worked by employees each week. If the employee works three days a week, they will receive three days’ pay per week.

Is paternity leave paid?

Yes, employers must pay employees during paternity leave. The weekly rate of paternity leave entitlement will be either £151.97 or 90% of average earnings—whichever is lower.

Paternity leave pay in the UK will have tax and National Insurance deducted from it. Employees should receive their pay whilst they are on leave.

When does paternity leave start?

Paternity leave must start after the baby has been born. Employees aren’t required to provide a specific date. They can provide a more flexible time such as the day the baby is born, or a week after the baby has been born.

Employees will need to provide 28 days’ notice if they wish to change the start or end date of their leave.

Paternity leave laws for employers

Employers must not let paternity leave affect an employees’ rights regarding:

  • Pay rises.
  • Holiday accrual.
  • Dismissal and Redundancy.

Employees are also entitled to time off to attend antenatal appointments with their partner, or surrogate mother. You must allow employees time off to attend two appointments. Employees can take up to 6 hours per appointment, but you as the employer are able to extend this if you wish.

Paternity leave: adoption

There are different paternity rules if an employee is adopting. Below, you’ll find details of the rights and regulations that apply in these cases.


Different conditions apply for paternity pay in the case of adoption. To be eligible for payment, employees must have been continuously employed by the organisation for at least 26 weeks by the matching week. The matching week would be:

  • The last day of the week that the employee matches with the child (UK adoptions), or,
  • The date the child enters the UK, or the day the employee’s pay starts (overseas adoptions).

Employees will need to apply for paternity leave within seven days after the match with a child. They will need to apply to receive paternity pay 28 days before the payments are due to start.

When does paternity leave start for adoptions?

Employees are eligible to begin their leave:

  • On the placement day of the child.
  • At an agreed time after the date of placement.
  • The day the child arrives in the UK, or at an agreed time after this (overseas adoptions).

Employees who are adopting are also entitled to time off to attend two adoption appointments after they have matched with a child.

Paternity leave: surrogacy

Paternity leave for a surrogacy arrangement is different again. You’ll find the details of the rights and regulations that apply in these cases below.


If an employee is having a baby through surrogacy, they must:

  • Be in a couple.
  • Be responsible for the child with their partner.
  • Be in continuous employment with the organisation for at least 26 weeks by the 15th week before the baby is due.

When does paternity leave start for surrogate parents?

Employees are eligible to begin their leave the day the child is born or the day after if they are working that day.

Like regular paternity leave, employees aren’t required to give an exact day. They can provide a more general time frame. For example—the week after the baby is born.

The employee must make you aware that they wish to take the leave 15 weeks before the due date. You may want to ask for this in writing to confirm.

Employees who are having a baby through surrogacy are also entitled to time off to attend two antenatal appointments.

Get support with paternity leave arrangements with Health Assured

Health Assured’s expert legal advisors can support you with employee rights and pay during paternity leave. Our 24/7 counselling, legal and information line is here to support you with any confusion or concerns.

We also support employees through challenging times like having a child, adopting from overseas or managing working and parenting. Our Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) offers employees access to accredited counsellors when they need it most.

Want to find out more? Call us on 0844 891 0353 to book a free consultation with one of our wellbeing consultants.

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