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Paternity Leave and Pay

To qualify for paternity pay and leave you must be an 'employee'. A 'worker' does not qualify for leave but may qualify for pay.

Employees, regardless of hours of work, are entitled to paternity leave if they have, or expect to have, responsibility for their baby's upbringing and are either or both the biological father of the baby and or the mother's husband or partner. Same sex partners will be included. In addition, they must have worked continuously for the same employer for 26 weeks ending with the 15th week before the baby is due and from the 15th week before the baby is due up to the date of birth. Paternity leave will be granted if the time is being taken off either to support the mother or to care for the new baby.

Eligible employees can choose to take either one week or two consecutive weeks' paternity leave. It cannot be taken as odd days or as two separate weeks. Employees can take only one period of leave even if more than one baby is born as a result of the same pregnancy.

Definition of an Employee

The majority of people in work are employees. An employee works under a contract of employment.  A contract need not be in writing - it exists when you and your employer agree terms and conditions of employment.  It can also be implied from your actions and those of the person you are working for.  Contracts of employment  will normally set out what is expected of the employee. An employee will do the work themselves i.e. they cannot send someone else to do their work.

Definition of a Worker

This is a broader category than 'employees' but normally excludes those who are self-employed.  A worker is any individual who works for an employer, whether under a contract of employment, or any other contract where an individual undertakes to do or perform personally any work or services. The following groups of people are likely to be workers but not employees:

Entitlement to Statutory Paternity Leave

Statutory Paternity Leave is payable for those who are an employee with a contract of employment and:

In the case of an adopted child, paternity leave is available to:

Paternity leave is additional to normal holiday allowances.

When Leave Starts

Leave cannot start until the baby's birth. Leave can start on the date of the baby's birth (whether this is earlier or later than expected); on a date falling after the birth date, which is notified to the employer, or on a chosen date as notified to the employer which falls after the first day of the expected week of childbirth.

To qualify for paternity leave an employee must tell their employer that they intend to take paternity leave by the end of the 15th week before the week the baby is due or, if this is not possible, as soon as is reasonably practicable

To Qualify for Paid Paternity Leave

In addition to the qualifications for paternity leave to qualify for Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP) an employee must have average weekly earnings at or above the lower earnings limit for national insurance at the end of his qualifying week (ending with the 15th week before the baby is due).

To qualify for SPP an employee must tell his employer that he wants to get SPP at least 28 days beforehand. Where an employee is entitled to both pay and leave, the notice given for leave by the 15th week before the week the baby is due can count for pay as well. The employee must tell his employer the expected week of the baby's birth, whether he wishes to take one or two weeks' leave and when he wants to start his leave. He must also make a signed declaration that he is taking leave either to care for his child or to support the mother or both; has or expects to have responsibility for the upbringing of the child and is the father of the child and/or the partner or husband of the mother.

If less than the LEL, the right to unpaid paternity leave may apply if all other conditions are met and may also be able to receive Income Support while on paternity leave.

From 2nd April 2023 the rate of SPP rate will be to a weekly rate of £172.48 or 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings, whichever is lower.  Rates and thresholds for employers 2023 to 2024 - GOV.UK (

A contract of employment continues throughout paternity leave, unless either the employer or the employee expressly ends it or it expires. While on paternity leave, employees are entitled to benefit from all those normal terms and conditions of employment, except from terms relating to wages or salary (unless their contract of employment provides otherwise), which would have applied were they not on paternity leave. An employee would continue to accrue annual leave while on paternity leave.

A period of paternity leave counts towards a period of continuous employment for the purposes of statutory employment rights, including calculating a redundancy payment. Pension contributions will be dealt with in the same way as if the employee was at work.

At the end of paternity leave an employee is guaranteed the right to return to the same job as before on the same terms and conditions of employment as if they had not been absent, unless a redundancy situation has arisen. They are also entitled to benefits from any general improvements to the rate of pay or other terms and conditions introduced while they were away.

An employee is protected against being subjected to detriment by any act or deliberate failure to act by their employer because they took paternity leave or sought to take paternity leave.

Workers (i.e. an agency worker, office holder or sub contractor), will not normally have the right to paternity leave, but may be eligible for pay if the other qualifying criteria are met.

How Much Paternity Leave Can Be Taken?

As long as all entitlement conditions are met, Paternity Leave of either one or two weeks can be taken.  Odd days off cannot be taken and where two weeks is taken, they must be taken together.

Paternity Leave can start:

Paternity Leave can start on any day of the week (but not before the baby is born), but has to finish within 56 days of the baby being born or, if the baby's born before the week it was due, within 56 days of the first day of that week.

Only one period of Paternity Leave is allowed regardless of a multiple birth.

Company Schemes

Some employers have their own paternity leave arrangements.  Employees may be able to choose the statutory scheme if this is more beneficial - check your contracts of employment.

Right to Accompany Partner to Prenatal Appointments

The new right for fathers and partners to accompany a partner to prenatal appointments came into force on 1 October 2014.

Part 8 of the Children and Families Act 2014 (CFA 2014) amends the Employment Rights Act 1996 (ERA) to create rights for eligible employees and agency workers to take unpaid time off work to accompany a pregnant woman to two antenatal appointments. It provides for up to a maximum of six and a half hours for each appointment (section 127, CFA 2014). Those who exercise this right will be protected from suffering a detriment or being dismissed in relation to time off to accompany a woman to prenatal appointments.

Locum reimbursement for parental leave (maternity, paternity & adoption)


When a salaried GP or GP partner is absent from the practice due to a period of parental leave (maternity/paternity/adoption) the practice is eligible to receive funding towards the cost of cover for that GP.

For the purposes of this the GP must be on leave for longer than one week and must be entitled to that leave either under statue, their contract of employment (in the case of salaried GPs), or the partnership agreement or other agreement between the partnership (for GP partners).

Cover for the absent GP can be provided by either an external locum or another GP already employed within the practice.


Under the SFE practices are eligible to receive up to a maximum of £1,143.06 per week for the first two weeks and £1,751.52 per week thereafter. If the full cost of the locum is lower than these maximums then the practice will receive the invoiced amount.

Practices should submit costs incurred to their commissioning body at a frequency agreed with the commissioner or within 14 days of the end of the month for which they are claiming reimbursement.

These payments will not be pro-rated in line with the working pattern of the absence GP.

Time Scales

There are no timescales set out in the SFE for locum reimbursements for parental leave. We would expect such payments to be in line with the length of maternity leave.

Shared Parental Leave

SPL (Shared parental leave) is a statutory right which provides eligible parents with more flexibility in how they share the care of their child in the first year following birth or adoption.

SPL allows for a maximum of up to 50 weeks’ leave to be shared between parents. They can decide to be off work at the same time or take it in turns to be on leave to look after their child.

This new entitlement was implemented for those eligible parents of babies due, or of children placed for adoption, on or after 5 April 2015.

As it is a flexible arrangement, there are a lot of variables . Please read the BMA guidance for further information about SPL BMA - Shared parental leave

Further Reading

Paternity leave -


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Updated on Wednesday, 5 April 2023 4611 views