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A guide to UK paternity leave and pay

9 December 2023 4 min read

Dad pushing his son on a skateboard

To help you understand everything around paternity leave we have created a guide to UK paternity leave and pay. In this guide, we will cover the legal obligations as an employer, explain the benefits of paternity leave and share a few ideas on how to develop a paternity leave policy that works for your business.

Baby sleeping on dads chest during paternity leave

Are employees entitled to paternity leave?

In the UK, employees are allowed to take leave because their partner is having a baby, they are adopting a child or having a baby through a surrogacy arrangement. Through this employees may be eligible for:

 

  • 2 weeks’ paid Paternity Leave
  • Paternity Pay
  • Shared Parental Leave and Pay

 

However, there are certain rules. First, employers are only entitled to paternity leave if they are taking the time off to look after the child. Also, they must be one of the following:

 

  • The father of the child
  • The husband or partner of the mother or adopter (and this includes same-sex partners)
  • The child’s adopter
  • The intended parent, if the baby’s being born through a surrogacy arrangement

 

And the employer must:

 

  • Be a contracted employee of your company
  • Give sufficient notice
  • Have been continuously employed by you the employer for at least 26 weeks up to any day in the “qualifying week” (the 15th week before the baby is due, or by the “matching week” for adoption)

 

For information on what makes employees eligible to take paternity leave, visit the GOV.UK website.

How does paternity leave work?

Employees are entitled to a total of 2 weeks of paid paternity leave. This does not change if there is more than 1 child, i.e. twins. For babies born of adopted after 6th April 2024, eligible parents will be able to take their two weeks’ of paternity leave in one-week blocks on separate occasions, rather than together.

Paternity leave cannot be taken before the birth of the child and from 6th April 2024, can be taken at any time during the first year of parenthood. Employees will have to provide four weeks’ notice to their employer as to when they wish to take their leave.

What is paternity pay and how to calculate it

Statutory paternity pay will go up slightly in April 2024, to £184.03 per week. The employee is entitled to the statutory amount or 90% of their weekly earnings, whichever is lowest. Employers may choose to offer full pay instead as part of their paternity leave policy (and many do).

How paternity leave can boost employee wellbeing

Employee wellbeing is a combination of good physical health and good mental health. It’s influenced by a number of factors, some physical, some social and some psychological.

If you invest in employee wellbeing, you can expect a range of benefits:

 

  • Increased productivity and motivation
  • Reduced absenteeism
  • Better staff retention
  • Improved relationships between staff and management
  • An overall happier, healthier and more fulfilled workforce

 

We recently investigated how some of the world’s most successful businesses manage employee wellbeing. Along with championing exercise and healthy eating, we found that many of these businesses are very generous when it comes to both maternity and paternity leave.

Why? Because employees feel stressed when they feel like work’s getting in the way of the rest of their life. And stressed employees are unhappy, unproductive and very unlikely to bring their best to work.

Paternity leave allows new fathers to spend as much time as possible with their new family in those crucial early days. It empowers families to decide which parent works and which parent raises the children – it can be either or both.

By offering your employees generous paternity leave, not only will you address a common cause of stress and resentment in the workplace, you’ll also send a strong message to your employees that you value them as people. This will show that you’re genuinely invested in their lives and their wellbeing. Which is great for relationships, for motivation and ultimately, for productivity.

How much paternity leave should organisations offer?

It’s up to you to devise a paternity scheme that works for you. You might want to keep things simple. If you are a small organisation with a small team, you may not be able to afford to offer employees huge amounts of time off. In this case, it might be best to stick to the statutory model.

Many other countries in the world offer very generous amounts of paternity leave. Since introducing the schemes, countries tend to report overall positive developments – divorce and separation rates drop, alcoholism figures fall and children tend to perform better in cognitive development tests.

You can read our guide to maternity leave here.

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Georgina at edays
Georgina
December 9, 2023

Georgina Mackintosh is an accomplished copywriter and marketing professional with a background that spans several industries. Her writing focuses on HR topics such as employee wellbeing, engagement and experience - as well as absence management best practice, how-to guides and news from the HR sector.