Qualifying employees have a statutory entitlement to take either one or two weeks’ off work as paternity leave. During this period, you may also be eligible for Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP).

Employees are required to make their claim for paternity leave using the relevant paternity leave form.

In this guide for expectant fathers, we explain how to notify your employer of your paternity leave request using the paternity leave form, and how the SPP rules work.

Are you 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 for statutory paternity leave, 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.

Importantly, 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.

Which paternity leave form should you use?

To claim for statutory paternity leave and pay you must notify your employer in writing using the correct paternity leave form. The official UK government paternity leave form used to be known as the SC3. The latest version of the form can be found on the .gov website.

Alternatively, the government guidance advises that if your employer has its own version of a paternity leave form that is different to the SC3, you should use this instead. You should check with your employer or HR department to confirm 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.

How long is paternity leave?

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 two separate weeks.

A week is calculated based on your normal working hours; if you work five days a week, you would be entitled to two, five-day weeks.

When do I give notice for 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 should 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.

When can paternity leave start?

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.

Paternity leave must be taken within eight weeks of the birth of your child. You can decide when during this period you want to start your paternity leave. For example, you could start the period of leave as soon as your partner or the mother of your baby goes into labour, or you may decide to wait until the baby is home from hospital. In all cases, you have to notify your employer of the start date of your leave. Employers are expected to be supportive of the employee’s request, particularly where there are challenging circumstances.

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.

How much is statutory paternity pay?

Throughout the period of paternity leave, statutory paternity pay is payable to eligible employees at a weekly rate of £156.66 a week until 1 April 2023, or £172.48 from 2 April 2023, or 90% of your average weekly earnings, whichever is less. Whilst you may be contractually entitled to a higher rate of pay, any contractual rate cannot be lower than the statutory rate.

Am I also entitled to 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.

Paternity leave form FAQs

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Legal disclaimer

The matters contained in this article are intended to be for general information purposes only. This article does not constitute tax, financial or legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the rules and should not be treated as such.

Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and no liability is accepted for any error or omission.

Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert tax, financial, legal or other advice should be sought.


Paternity Leave Form Guide 1

Gill Laing is a qualified Legal Researcher & Analyst with niche specialisms in Law, Tax, Human Resources, Immigration & Employment Law.

Gill is a Multiple Business Owner and the Managing Director of Prof Services - a Marketing Agency for the Professional Services Sector.

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