Paternity leave and pay: Can I take time off following the arrival of my newborn baby?

Sep 12, 2023 | Newborn, Mental Health, Postnatal

If you’re a new dad considering whether you’re able to take time off from work following the arrival of your new baby, then the chances are – absolutely. However, it’s worth talking to your employer about their paternity policy, as some offer more than standard.

Why should I take paternity leave?

Having time off work in the early weeks of your baby’s life can have valuable benefits for your new family. Taking paternity leave gives you an opportunity to bond with your newborn and can provide invaluable support to your partner. 

Am I eligible to take paternity leave?

While you might be eligible to take paternity leave, you might not necessarily be eligible to qualify for paid paternity leave. 

To qualify for paternity leave you must:

  • Be an employee
  • Give the correct notice (15 weeks before baby’s due date or within seven days of being matched with a child for adoption)
  • Have been continuously employed by your employer for at least 26 weeks up to any day in the ‘qualifying week’

And, in order to be paid for that paternity leave, you must also:

  • Earn at least £123 a week (before tax)

In addition, to be eligible for paternity leave, you must take the time off to look after the child and you must be either:

  • The father of the child
  • The adopter of the child
  • The husband or partner of the mother (or adopter)
  • Or the intended parent (if you’re having a baby through a surrogacy arrangement)[1]

How long can I have off?

You can choose to take one or two weeks off work – but keep in mind that a week constitutes your usual working week. In other words, if you only work two days a week, then a week of paternity leave constitutes two days. You must also take leave after the arrival of your newborn within 56 days of the birth (or adoption).[2]

What do I need to tell my employer?

When giving notice to your employer you’ll need to inform them that:

  • You’re entitled to take paternity leave and that you will be taking leave to either support the mother or care for the child, or both
  • When baby is due or its date of birth (if you’re adopting you’ll need to provide either the date you’re matched with the child or the date when the child is placed with you)
  • When you’d like to begin your paternity leave 
  • If you will be taking one or two weeks of leave

You can also change when you want to take paternity leave – just make sure that you give your employer 28 days’ notice before the changed date.

What will I be paid?

Subject to meeting the eligibility criteria, you may be entitled to pay whilst on paternity leave. At the time of writing this blog, this is £172.48 per week or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is the lower amount).[3] Your pay will be awarded in the same way as your wages.

What about my rights?

Your employment rights are still protected whilst on paternity leave. 

Are you planning on taking paternity leave? Join The Parents Class

If you’re planning on taking paternity leave, you may be entitled to take time off to attend one or two antenatal classes.[4] Our antenatal classes are a perfect way to meet other soon-to-be dads. Find your nearest The Parents Class course – or if you’re a new or expectant dad, why not join our online community to connect with other like-minded parents and share your experiences and advice?

[1] GOV.UK Website Paternity Pay and Leave

[2] Citizens Advice Check Your Parental Rights at Work

[3] GOV.UK Website Paternity Pay and Leave

[4] Citizens Advice Rights While You’re Pregnant at Work

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