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How much paternity leave are fathers entitled to?

If your staff member’s partner is pregnant, adopting a child or having a baby through a surrogate, they will be eligible for statutory paternity leave and pay. In this article, we break down what those eligible staff members are entitled to in 2021.

To learn more about paternity leave and pay, check out the UK Government support hub, the ACAS support page, or head over to another Natural HR blog to learn about if the current entitlement is long enough or if it should be extended.

How much time off are your staff entitled to?

When it comes to paternity leave, your staff can take either 1 or 2 weeks of paternity leave. However, if they take two weeks, it must be taken in one go.

If your workplace offers more paternity leave than the minimum legal requirements, this should be outlined in their employment contract.

But when can it start? For entitled staff, they can take their leave either on:

  • The day the baby is born.
  • The day a child is placed with your employee for adoption.
  • A date after the birth or adoption that is agreed in advance with the employee

Are your staff entitled to paternity pay?

Your employee will be eligible for Statutory Paternity Pay if you employ them at the time of the birth of their child. However, there are some caveats. By the 15th week before the baby is due, they must have:

  • Worked continuously for the business for at least 26 weeks.
  • Given the appropriate notice
  • Earned at least £120 a week (Before tax).

However, if the staff member is an agency worker, office holder, or subcontractor, they will not normally have the right to paternity leave but may still be eligible for paternity pay. This depends on several different factors and should be identifiable in their given work contract with your company.

If your staff don’t qualify for paternity leave because they don’t fit into the above profile, then there are alternatives that your staff can take, including:

  • Taking annual leave or unpaid parental leave instead.
  • Making a switch to a more flexible working pattern.

If your employee is a same-sex partner, it’s still called paternity leave. One partner can take paternity leave, and the other can take maternity leave or adoption leave.

How much paternity pay is your staff entitled to?

Under UK law, your staff are entitled to statutory paternity pay. This is the minimum legal entitlement that your staff are entitled to. Your staff will be entitled to whichever is the lower of the following two figures:

  • £151.97 a week or
  • 90% of their average weekly earnings.

Other considerations when calculating paternity leave.

For your staff to get access to their parental leave entitlement, they must notify you in writing – either 15 weeks before their baby’s due date or within seven days of being matched with a child for adoption – that they want to take paternity leave.

In this letter, they must state:

  • When the baby is due or the date of the birth or adoption.
  • When they would like to start paternity leave.
  • Whether they are taking 1 or 2 weeks of paternity leave.

Further resources

Citizens Advice Service – Parental rights at work.

NHS – Maternity and paternity benefits and leave.

Maternity Action – Shared parental leave and pay.