You must be an employee to take paternity leave, not self employed or a worker (such as an agency worker). However some workers can get paternity pay, if they are “employed earners” (where someone, for example an agency, pays employer’s national insurance). You do not have to be the father of the baby, but you must be either the father, the mother or adopter’s spouse or civil partner, or you are the mother/adopter’s partner and live with them and the child.
Paternity leave can cover one or two weeks soon after the birth or adoption of a child. You can check the detailed rules here. After that, you may be able to take shared parental leave if you and your partner meet the conditions.
Your employer may offer better paternity leave and pay than the legal minimum described here, so you should always check your contract and employer policies. An employer may not offer less than the legal minimum.
If you are an employee but are not entitled to paternity leave, you may be able to take a short amount of unpaid time off for dependants when the baby is born. If you cannot take paternity leave or time off for dependants, or you need more paid time off, you could ask your employer for annual leave. Unpaid parental leave can also be taken by eligible employees when a child is born.
This information applies in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. If you live in another part of the UK, the law may differ. Please call our helpline for more details.
If you have further questions and would like to contact our advice team please use our advice contact form below or call us.