Home Advice for Parents & CarersPaternity An introduction to Paternity Leave

An introduction to Paternity Leave

Last updated: 10 Mar 2021

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.

Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP) is paid after birth or adoption to eligible employees and workers.  Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) may be payable during shared parental leave.

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.

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The information on the law contained on this site is provided free of charge and does not, and is not intended to, amount to legal advice to any person on a specific case or matter. If you are not a solicitor, you are advised to obtain specific legal advice about your case or matter and not to rely solely on this information. Law and guidance is changing regularly in this area.