Paternity leave and paternity pay

If you’re expecting a child in the UK, there are a few different options available when it comes to taking leave from work. One of those options is to take Statutory Paternity Leave while the other partner’s either on Statutory Maternity Leave or Statutory Adoption Leave.

How long’s Statutory Paternity Leave?

Statutory Paternity Leave entitles a parent to one or two weeks off work when their child is born. It’s the same amount of leave whether your partner has multiple births, such as twins. There are a few rules on how this leave can be taken outlined below.

  • Statutory Paternity Leave can only start after the child is born.
  • It must end within 56 days of the birth (or due date if the baby’s born early).
  • All of the leave must be taken in one go.
  • A ‘week’ of paternity leave’s made up of how many days a week someone works (e.g. if you only work on Mondays and Tuesdays, then your ‘week’ of paternity leave would equal two days).

For those adopting or having a baby through surrogacy, the rules on when paternity leave can be taken are slightly different. Adopters can start on the day the child’s placed with them or an agreed number of days after that date. For surrogacy, leave can start on either the day of the child’s birth or the day after.

How much is Statutory Paternity Pay?

The amount available through Statutory Paternity Pay’s the lower of:

  • £172.48 per week; or
  • 90% of average weekly earnings.

These payments are made by the employer. Tax and National Insurance are paid as they would be in the employee’s usual pay packet.

Who can take Statutory Paternity Leave and Pay?

The person claiming Statutory Paternity Leave and Pay must be one of the following:

  • the father of the child;
  • the husband or partner of the mother or adopter (including same sex couples);
  • the adopter of the child; or
  • the intended parent when having a child through surrogacy.

Eligibility for Statutory Paternity Leave

To qualify for Statutory Paternity Leave a person must:

  • be an employee (not self-employed or an agency worker);
  • have been continuously employed for at least 26 weeks up to the 15th week before the baby’s due; or
  • give an employer notice of no less than 15 weeks before the due date.

Eligibility for Statutory Paternity Pay

To qualify for Statutory Paternity Pay, these extra conditions must also be met:

  • the parent must be employed by the employer up to the date of birth;
  • they must earn at least £123 per week before tax; and
  • have been continuously employed for at least 26 weeks up to the 15th week before the baby is due.

Unfortunately, if you’re self-employed you’re not eligible to Statutory Paternity Leave or Pay. If both you and your partner are self-employed, they might be eligible for Maternity Allowance. But they must’ve been registered as self-employed for at least 26 weeks.

Eligibility for Statutory Paternity Leave and Pay if adopting

The eligibility criteria’s slightly different for those who are adopting. Adopters applying for Statutory Paternity Pay and Leave must:

  • provide proof of adoption (Statutory Paternity Pay only);
  • be an employee (not self-employed or an agency worker);
  • give an employer notice within seven days of being matched with a child;
  • earn on average at least £123 a week before tax;
  • have been continuously employed for at least 26 weeks by the week they’re matched with a child (if adopting a child from the UK); or
  • have been continuously employed for at least 26 weeks by the date the child arrives in the UK, or by the preferred start date of Statutory Paternity Pay (if adopting a child from overseas).

Eligibility for Statutory Paternity Leave and Pay with surrogacy

For those having a child via a surrogate, the usual eligibility criteria will apply along with the following additions:

  • the applicant must be in a couple; and
  • they must be responsible for the child (along with a partner).

Paternity leave and pensions

Employees can still contribute to a workplace scheme while they’re on Statutory Paternity Leave if it’s a defined contribution pension. However, personal contributions will be based on Statutory Paternity Pay, rather than their full salary. Employers can also continue to make contributions. These will usually still be based on pay received before Paternity Leave was taken.

It’s worth noting that if an employee makes contributions, their employer will do too. But, if an employee stops making contributions, the employer contributions will also stop.

Shared Parental Leave and Pay

Statutory Paternity Leave tends to be a lot less generous than both Statutory Maternity Leave and Statutory Adoption Leave. Therefore, some parents may wish to divide the time taken off work more evenly. If this is the case, there’s the option of taking Shared Parental Leave and Pay. This allows couples to share 50 weeks of Statutory Shared Parental Leave and 37 weeks of Statutory Shared Parental Pay between them.

Find out about PensionBee’s Parental Leave Policy.

Thinking about starting a family? Listen to episode 19 of The Pension Confident Podcast. Our guests discuss preparing to have kids, childcare costs and more. You can also watch the episode on YouTube or read the full transcript.

Risk warning

As always with investments, your capital is at risk. The value of your investment can go down as well as up, and you may get back less than you invest. This information should not be regarded as financial advice.

Last edited: 30/10/2023

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