Birth Choice

Understand your options

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In summary

  • If you’ve worked for the same employer since before your partner became pregnant and are still there when the baby is born you'll probably be eligible for paternity leave
  • You must give your employer written notice around week 25 or 26 of pregnancy
  • Some employers have better eligibility terms than the legal requirements, so always check your contract or speak to your HR department
  • You could also be eligible for Shared Parental Leave

How long and how much paternity leave am I entitled to?

If you are an employed new father, you are entitled to either one or two weeks' paternity leave. This is the same for multiple births.

To be eligible, you must have a contract of employment and have been working for the same employer for 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the week your baby is due. 

It is your choice whether you take one or two weeks' paternity leave and when you do so, but it must begin:

  • on the day your baby is born; or
  • a number of days or weeks after the birth; or
  • from a specific date after the first day of the week the baby is due.

If you have more than one year's service you can also take additional parental leave to have more time off, though this will be unpaid.

How much pay will I get?

Unless your employer is more generous, you will receive £148.68 per week in tax year 2019/20 - or 90% of your average earnings - whichever is lower. Any money you get will be paid to you in the same way as your wages.

Unfortunately, there’s no equivalent for self-employed fathers to claim. So if you’re self-employed you’ll need to plan ahead to have time off. 

How do I get paternity leave?

You must give your employer written notice around week 25 or 26 of your partner's pregnancy. 

Use our template letter for notice of paternity leave or fill in a 'self-certificate' form.

Antenatal appointments

As an expectant father you can take unpaid leave to attend two antenatal appointments. 

You're entitled to six and a half hours for each appointment, but your employer may choose to give you longer. 

If you're an agency worker, you need to be doing a job for 12 weeks before you qualify for this unpaid leave. 

What is Shared Parental Leave?

In addition to paternity leave, you may be eligible for Shared Parental Leave (SPL) and Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP). 

SPL allows you to take blocks of leave separated by periods of work, rather than having to take the entire leave in one go.

If both you and your partner are eligible, you will be able to share the leave between you.  

To find our more, read our guide on Shared Parental Leave

If you don't qualify for leave

If you don't qualify for paternity and shared leave, consider taking unpaid leave or annual leave.

You have a legal right to take unpaid emergency leave to be at the birth of your child.

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