How much paternity leave are fathers entitled to in the UK? We answer this question below, as well as answering all your other paternity leave FAQs.
While women get a year off work on maternity leave, in the past men were only given two weeks to bond with their baby.
But new legislation allows dads to take up to six months off if their partners have returned to work. Find out more…
How much paternity leave are fathers entitled to?
Since April 2011, employed dads are entitled to six months’ additional paternity leave to care for their baby. While the rules are fairly straightforward, they’re very precise - so pay attention!
In the past, men were only given two weeks to bond with their baby.
The additional paternity leave (APL) of 26 weeks (six months) is on top of the usual two weeks’ ordinary paternity leave (OPL).
APL can only be taken 20 or more weeks after the child's birth, once the mother has returned to work. Plus, it must be taken during the first year of a newborn’s life.
In short, you can take up to six months off from when the child is 20 weeks old to one year old, if your partner has gone back to work.
Additional paid paternity leave
Maternity leave has now been made more flexible - by allowing the father to split it with the mother.
The basic idea is that dads will be able to take time off and claim state maternity benefits for a year - provided the mother has returned to employment.
This obviously gives families more choice over how they split parenting demands.
To qualify for additional paid paternity leave, the child’s mother must have qualified for either:
- Statutory Maternity Leave or Pay
- Maternity Allowance
- Statutory Adoption Leave or Pay
They must also have returned to work and no longer be receiving any of the above.
How much money will they pay me while on leave?
You get paid £138.18, or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is lower). Some employers may 'top up' the amount you get given by the government - this will be detailed in your contract if so.
That figure above applies for both your ordinary two weeks off and any additional paid paternity leave you may take.
Tax and National Insurance will be deducted.
Are these rules the same for everyone?
Be aware that while most people are guaranteed some support, not everyone can access these benefits.
Find out whether you’re an employee, a worker or self-employed - as your employment status could alter your right to paternity leave.
Some companies offer more than the statutory leave and pay, so check your employment contract for details.
If you're self-employed, unfortunately you are not entitled to statutory paternity pay. Being your own boss you can decide how much time to take off, but obviously this costs. But do check whether you're entitled to any benefits (such as Child Tax Credit, Working Tax Credit or the Sure Start Maternity Grant). Whether you're entitled to anything will depend on your personal circumstances but you can quickly find out - see the articles mentioned above for details.
Can I change my mind?
While a break from work can seem like great idea when you’re in the office, adding a young baby into the mix can suddenly put things in a whole new light.
Dads looking to end their APL early (for whatever reason) can do so providing they give at least six weeks’ notice.
Your employer is entitled to postpone your return for up to six weeks if you forget to do that, and to refuse to pay you – so pay attention to your diary.
I’m scared I might get made redundant
In difficult economic conditions, the idea of taking a break from work might feel dangerous.
However, provision has been made to protect dads from predatory managers looking to make cuts.
If you are made redundant during APL, you are entitled to be consulted and receive the redundancy pay for which you are qualified.
Your company should also offer you any suitable alternative existing vacancy, before it’s offered to other members of staff based in the office.