Paternity leave, pay & entitlement

4 min read  |   26 February, 2024   By Aimée Brougham-Chandler

A father on paternity leave is holding his baby in his arms and kissing their forehead. Behind them is a white wall with blue balloons painted on it.

3 in 5 fathers said they took 2 weeks or less as paternity leave, following the birth of their most recent child. And 70% who didn't utilise their full entitlement said they couldn't afford to, according to research

In this blog, we'll cover what Statutory Paternity Leave is (and who's eligible to take it), how long paternity leave lasts, when it starts & how much Statutory Paternity Pay is.


What is paternity leave?

Paternity leave is the time employees can legally take off when their partner gives birth or when they adopt a child, or they're having a baby via a surrogacy arrangement. 

Paternity leave is in addition to the employee's normal holiday allowance (and holiday can be added onto paternity leave). 


How long is paternity leave?

Eligible fathers can choose to take 1-2 weeks of Statutory Paternity Leave.

The Paternity Leave Amendment Regulations 2024 means that paternity leave can now legally be split into two blocks of one week, at any point in the first year after the birth or adoption of their child. (This applies where the expected week of childbirth falls on or after 6th April 2024.)


How much is Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP)?

The weekly rate for Statutory Paternity Pay is £172.48 or 90% of your employee's average weekly earnings (whichever is lower).  

Tax and National Insurance is deducted from Statutory Paternity Pay. 


Who is eligible for paternity leave pay?

The employee is eligible for paternity leave pay if they:


1. Are taking paternity leave to look after their child

It sounds obvious but the first criteria is proof of relationship to the child. They need to be taking time off to look after the child because they are:

  • the father;
  • spouse or partner of the mother or guardian, including LGBT partnerships;
  • child’s legal guardian; or
  • intended parent (if the baby is planned through a surrogacy arrangement).

2. Earn more than £123 per week

To qualify for SPL, fathers must earn at least £123 per week (before tax). 


3. Give more than 15 weeks' notice

Notice periods are important too. Be sure you receive the correct amount of notice and ask the father to send the request 15 weeks before the baby's due date, detailing:

  • when they want their paternity leave to start;

  • the day of the birth or the week after the birth; and

  • whether they want one, two or more weeks’ leave.

Exact dates don't need to be given in terms of notice; for example, saying you'd like paternity leave to start on the day of the birth (or a week after) is fine. 

The qualifying week is either 26 working weeks or the 15th week before the expectant due date. If they are adopting, this is known as the 'matching week'.

Unfortunately, self-employed or agency-worker dads aren't eligible for SPP. 


Supporting working fathers in your SME

The conditions for pay and leave allowance around parental leave are very much at the company's discretion. Whilst there are statutory minimums, there's nothing to stop you offering more to support your people, if you can.

You can also use Breathe's HR software to track length of service and easily record parental leave. Trial for free for 14 days today. 


Author: Aimée Brougham-Chandler

An IDM-certified Digital Copywriter as of February 2023, Aimée is Breathe's Content Assistant. With a passion for guiding readers to solutions for their HR woes, she enjoys delving into & demystifying all things HR: From employee performance to health and wellbeing, leave to company culture & much more.

Back to listing

Sign up to get the latest HR and people management insights straight to your inbox