paternity leave and pay

Updated February 2024.

Following the birth of a child or an adoption placement, fathers, spouses and partners/civil partners have a right to paternity leave and pay, to care for the child or support the mother. From 1st December 2014 parents of a child born to a surrogate mother will be entitled to paternity leave and pay.

We look at all the details here.

Paternity Pay will increase from £172.48 per week to £184.03 from 7th April 2024.

Fathers and partners/civil partners who are workers will not quality for Leave but may qualify for Paternity Pay (see below). Freelancers, unless they are classed as Workers, are not eligible for either leave or pay.

N.B. A child’s father will not be entitled to Leave or Pay if he is separated, divorced or living apart from the child’s mother and plays little or no part in the child’s upbringing.

Length of Paternity Leave

  • You can take up to two consecutive weeks’ paternity leave (not odd days)
  • You can choose to start your leave on the day the baby is born, matched for adoption, a chosen number of days or weeks after the birth/adoption, or when the baby is expected to be born/adopted
  • Leave can start on any day of the week after the child’s birth/adoption but must be finished within 56 days (eight weeks) of the baby being born/adopted
  • For details on bank holidays that occur during paternity leave see our Working Time Regulations page
  • If your partner has a multiple birth you’re only allowed one period of paternity leave.

Return to work after Paternity Leave:

You are entitled to return to the same job following paternity leave. A European Court of Justice case in September 2013 (Halliday v Creation Consumer Finance Ltd) found that an employee absent on parental leave could be made redundant, as long as the reason for the dismissal was not the parental leave (this will apply to maternity leave and paternity leave too).

Changes to Paternity Leave from 6th April 2024:

In England, Wales and Scotland.  Effective from 8th March 2024, changes are being made to Paternity Leave regulations which are designed to introduce more flexibility for those taking paternity leave.  There is no change to Paternity Pay.

This applies to the fathers and partners of children born (or placed for adoption or born through surrogacy) on or after 6th April 2024, who are employees.  The changes are:

  • The existing right to 2 weeks Paternity Leave remain, but the Leave will be able to be taken in one block of 2 weeks, or 2 blocks of 1 week (unlike currently, where 1 or 2 weeks leave must be taken continuously).
  • Currently this leave must be taken in the first 8 weeks after the birth/adoption placement. From 6th April the leave can be taken in the first year after the birth/adoption.
  • Currently, individuals are required to notify their employer of their Paternity leave dates 15 weeks before the expected week of confinement. From 6th April, individuals need to give their notice of entitlement to Paternity Leave 15 weeks before the expected week of childbirth/adoption placement, and then must give 28 days ‘notice before the dates they actually intend to take the leave.