Statutory Paternity Pay: What is it and How Does it Work?

Expecting a little one soon? Their arrival is worth planning for. Expectant mothers can receive maternity leave once their child is born, but new fathers are also entitled to paternity leave and pay as well. 

Paternity leave allows fathers to bond with their child in their baby’s first few weeks after birth. For many fathers, statutory paternity leave will be available to support them.

What is statutory paternity pay?

Statutory paternity leave entitles fathers or the mothers’ partners to one or two weeks of leave after the baby is born. This is a government funded benefit, and during this time your employment rights will be fully protected. 

Additionally, fathers-to-be will also be allowed to accompany their partner to two antenatal appointments.

How much is statutory paternity pay?

Statutory paternity leave and pay will be granted by the government and be either £156.66 per week or 90% of your average earnings – whichever is lower. 

Your employer may also offer paternity leave, so you might be able to receive additional payment from your employer. However, they cannot pay you any less than the statutory minimum amount.

When does paternity leave start?

While maternity leave can start just before the baby is born, paternity leave must begin when the baby arrives. It must end within 56 days of the birth, or if your child is born early, within 56 days of the due date. 

If your partner or surrogate has a multiple birth, you won’t be able to get double or triple the amount of time off. 

You must let your employer know that you intend to take paternity leave 15 weeks before your baby is due. They must know when your leave will start and how much leave you intend to take. 

If you want to change the date you’ll start your leave, you must notify your employer 28 days in advance.

What is the eligibility criteria for statutory paternity pay?

It can be a worry not to know whether you will qualify for statutory paternity pay, but there are a few criteria you must meet in order to receive paternity pay from the government. These criteria are: 

  • You must be employed
  • You must have given the correct amount of notice ( at least 15 weeks)
  • You must have been continuously employed by your employer for at least 26 weeks before any day in the qualifying week (the qualifying week is the 15th week before the baby is due)

If you want to get statutory paternity leave, you must also be: 

  • The father
  • The partner or husband of the mother
  • Adopting a child
  • The intended parent (for example, if you’re having a child via surrogacy)

However, if you’re adopting a child the eligibility requirements are slightly different. The week you matched with your child – or matching week – is important and you need to have been continuously employed by your employer for 26 weeks at this point. 

Your employer will need proof of adoption so you can qualify for paternity pay. This can be in the form of a letter from the adoption agency or it can be the matching certificate.

What if you’re self-employed?

Currently, there’s no form of statutory paternity pay for the self-employed. You will also not be eligible for shared parental leave or pay.

However, if your partner is allowed maternity leave – they might be able to reduce this and share it between you as statutory shared parental pay. 

If an employee does not return to work after paternity leave

If an intended parent does not return to work after their statutory paternity leave, it’s important to understand the implications. Statutory paternity leave and pay are designed to support new parents in balancing their family and work life. 

However, if an employee decides not to return, they should inform their employer as soon as possible, following the company’s leave policies. Failure to return without proper notification can affect their employment rights and may lead to the termination of employment. 

Employers should provide clear information about the terms and conditions related to paternity leave and pay, ensuring employees understand their obligations and the impact of not returning to work post-leave.

What if you’re not eligible for paternity leave?

If you’re ineligible for paternity leave, your employer must inform you within 28 days of your request using an SPP1 form. However, alternatives like unpaid parental leave are available, allowing you to spend time with your family without pay. 

You might also consider statutory shared parental pay (ShPP), which offers flexible options for parents to share leave and care responsibilities. 

These options ensure that, even without eligibility for paternity leave, you have avenues to balance family and work commitments effectively. It’s important to discuss these alternatives with your employer to understand what’s available to you.

How can you claim paternity leave?

You must claim paternity leave through your employer and you must inform them with enough notice. 

You will need to have your leave confirmed by them before you are paid. Your employer may ask for proof, which means that you may have to sign a self-certification form (a SC3 form) which will confirm that you are eligible to take paternity leave and that you are taking this leave to care for your child.

What are the key differences between other forms of parental leave?

There are many different types of parental leave, and it will be offered to different people depending on their circumstances. 

Shared parental leave allows mothers to share a portion of their maternity leave with the fathers up until their child’s first birthday. This allows for greater flexibility in terms of time off and mothers and fathers can combine their maternity or paternity leave to be off at the same time as well. 

Statutory maternity leave can last up to 39 weeks, which is far longer than the two weeks of statutory paternity leave.


Statutory paternity leave and pay can be tricky to navigate, but with our guide you’ll be able to figure out what you’re entitled to and when you should inform your employer that you need to take it. 

If you’re an employer and you want to keep track of your employee’s paternity leave, our payroll software and our HR software will help you pay your employees properly and let you know when they are taking parental leave.