Employees meeting the qualifying criteria have a statutory entitlement to take either one or two weeks’ paternity leave within eight weeks of the birth of their child or of adopting a child. As an expectant father, or partner of an expectant mother, you may also be entitled to statutory paternity pay during this period.
Employees are reequied to make a claim for patermity leave using te relevant paternity leave form.
Am I eligible to claim statutory paternity leave?
Employees who take time off work to care for a child, or support the child’s mother, following birth or adoption may be eligible for statutory paternity leave. To qualify you must satisfy the following criteria:
- you must be the biological father of the child, or married to or the partner of the child’s mother, including same-sex partners.
- have, or expect to have, responsibility for the upbringing of the child.
- have been continuously employed for a period not less than 26 weeks by the 15th week before the child is due or, if the child is born before then, would have been continuously employed for this period.
- continue to work for the same employer up to the child’s birth.
- Paternity leave is only available if you are an employee. Self-employed, agency, freelance or casual workers are not entitled to statutory paternity leave, although they may still qualify for statutory paternity pay.
How do I claim statutory paternity leave?
To claim for statutory paternity leave and pay you must notify your employer in writing using the correct paternity leave form, usually known as form SC3. This is the form to use when becoming a parent through birth. Paternity leave form SC4 is used becoming an adoptive parent.
Your employer may have a different version of the paternity leave form that you will need to complete. You should make inquiries with your employer or HR department so that you know which version of the form you need to submit.
Your employer may also require you to provide a signed declaration of your family commitment. If so, you will need to expressly state that you are the father of the child, or married to or the partner of the child’s mother, that you have or expect to have responsibility for the upbringing of the child, and that the purpose of your absence from work is to care for the child or support the child’s mother. This declaration can be included on your paternity leave form.
You must provide your employer with acceptable evidence of your entitlement to leave at least 28 days before you intend to take your period of leave.
When do I give notice to claim statutory paternity leave?
To claim statutory paternity leave and pay, you must provide your employer with notice of your intention to take leave at least 15 weeks before the expected week of your child’s birth. You can use the paternity leave form to give notice for leave and pay together.
You must provide the following information:
- the child’s due date
- the date you intend to take your period of leave
- the amount of time you will be taking off work.
If you have been unable to notify your employer by the qualifying week, you should give notice as soon as is reasonably practicable. In the event that you change your mind about the dates for pay and leave, you must give your employer at least 28 days notice of the new dates. If you do change your mind, always check if you are required to complete a fresh paternity leave form.
If you do not qualify for statutory paternity leave or pay, your employer must inform you, with reasons why, within 28 days of your notice using form SPP1.
How do I work out the qualifying week?
To establish the qualifying week in which you must give your employer notice, you will need to ascertain the Sunday before the baby is due, or the due date if it is a Sunday, and count back 15 Sundays from there. That is the start of the 15th week before your child’s due date.
What am I entitled to claim?
You are statutorily entitled to either one week or two consecutive weeks’ paternity leave following the child’s birth, to be taken within 56 days following the child’s birth, and not before. You can choose to take one or two whole weeks paternity leave, but not 2 separate weeks.
Throughout this period of leave any statutory paternity pay will be payable to eligible employees at a weekly rate of £145.18, or 90% of your average weekly earnings, whichever is less (as of April 2018). Whilst you may be contractually entitled to a higher rate of pay, any contractual rate cannot be lower than the statutory rate.
You do not have to give a precise date when you want your paternity leave and pay to commence, rather you may choose to state any one of the following:
- on the day your child is born
- a fixed number of days after the birth
- a fixed date after the first day of the week the child is due.
If the child is born prematurely, paternity leave can be taken any time from the actual date of birth up to 56 days from the date the child would have been due. Given that statutory paternity leave and pay cannot start before the child is born, your employer will need to be flexible with cover arrangements to account for the possibility that the child may not arrive on time.
If the child is stillborn after the 24th week of pregnancy, or if the child is born alive at any point during the pregnancy but later passes away, you are still entitled to full statutory paternity rights and pay, so long as you satisfy the eligibility criteria.
Am I also entitled to claim statutory shared parental leave and pay?
If the expectant mother intends to curtail her maternity leave, this can create up to a maximum of 50 weeks’ shared leave and 37 weeks pay to be divided between the two of you. Statutory shared parental pay is payable at the same rate as paternity pay.
When taking shared parental leave, you must give your employer not less than 8 weeks notice before the start date of the first period of leave. You can be off work at the same time as the mother or, alternatively, stagger this leave. This shared leave can be taken at any time between the birth and the child’s first birthday.
Whilst you can choose to take both paternity leave and shared parental leave, you cannot take paternity leave if you have already taken a period of shared parental leave. The period of paternity leave must come first.