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Paternity leave and pay

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Example policy: Paternity leave and pay

This is an example of an employment policy designed for a small not-for-profit employer adhering to statutory minimum requirements and does not constitute legal advice. As with all policies it should be consistent with your terms and conditions of employment as well as your culture and aspirations. There is no one size fits all.

Download a version of this paternity leave and pay example policy (Word, 75KB)

Purpose and scope

This is an outline of our policy on paternity (maternity support) leave and pay. Ordinary paternity leave also applies to adoptive parents (adoptive father or adoptive mother) where a child is matched or newly placed with them for adoption. When you find out your partner is pregnant, or if you adopt a child, contact your manager so they can tell you about your entitlements. 


To qualify for ordinary paternity leave and pay, you will need to have worked for us for more than 26 weeks before the first day of the ‘qualifying week’. The ‘qualifying week’ is the 15th week before the baby is due. If you are adopting a child, you will need to have worked for us for more than 26 weeks before the end of the week you’re matched with the child. You must also have, or expect to have, responsibility for the upbringing of the child.

Ante-natal appointments

An expectant father or the partner (including same sex) of a pregnant woman can take unpaid time off work to go to two of her ante-natal appointments. The time off shouldn’t be more than six and a half hours for each appointment.

'Partner' includes the spouse or civil partner of the pregnant woman and a person (of either sex) in a long term relationship with her. The right applies whether the child is conceived naturally or through donor insemination. It also extends to those who will become parents through a surrogacy arrangement if they expect to meet the conditions, and intend to apply, for a parental order for the child born through that arrangement.

Employees who are adopting a child can take time off to attend adoption appointments. Please see the adoption leave and pay policy for full details.

You should give your manager as much notice as possible of when you need the time off. We may ask you to confirm the date and time of the appointment and that you qualify for time off through your relationship with the mother or child. We may also ask that the time off is to attend an ante-natal appointment with the mother that is on medical advice.

Paternity leave (PL)

You can take up to two weeks' ordinary paternity leave if your partner gives birth to a child, or if you are the biological father or adoptive parent of the child. PL can start from the date of the child’s birth, or child’s placement with the adopter, or within 56 days of the birth or date of placement. If the child is born early, you can take PL between the date of birth and up to the 56th day after the EWC.

Paternity leave must be taken in a single block of one or two weeks within eight weeks of the birth or adoption of the child. Only one period of leave is available to employees irrespective of whether more than one child is born as the result of the same pregnancy.

If you choose to start your PL on a fixed and predetermined date and the child is not born or placed for adoption by that date, you must change the date you want to start your leave and notify us in writing as soon as you can. If you take both PL and shared parental leave you must take ordinary paternity leave first.

Notification of paternity leave

You must inform your manager in writing of your intention to take PL by the end of the qualifying week, unless this is not reasonably practicable. You must tell your manager the following.

  • The week the baby is due.
  • Whether you wish to take one or two weeks’ leave.
  • When you want your leave to start.

For adoption, you must tell us you want to take ordinary paternity leave within seven days of the adoption agency telling you of the match. The notice must specify the following.

  • The date the child is expected to be placed for adoption.
  • The date you intend to start ordinary paternity leave.
  • The length of the intended ordinary paternity leave period.
  • The date on which the adopter was notified of having been matched with the child.

You can change your mind about the date on which you want the leave to start. You will need to tell your manager at least 28 days in advance (unless this is not practicable).

Statutory paternity pay (SPP)

You will qualify for SPP if your weekly earnings in the 8 weeks up to and including the qualifying week (QW) are not less than the lower earnings limit for the payment of National Insurance contributions.

The QW is 15 weeks before the baby is due or the week during which you are notified of being matched with a child for adoption.

Paternity leave will be paid at the prevailing rate of SPP or 90% of average weekly earnings if this figure is less than SPP.

Shared parental leave (SPL)

The birth mother or partner is entitled to curtail their maternity/adoption leave and pay and instead take SPL and pay in conjunction with the child’s father (in the case of birth) or the spouse, civil partner or partner of the child’s mother/adopter, subject to meeting the eligibility criteria.

SPL enables parents to choose how to share the care of their child during the first year of birth. Its purpose is to give parents more flexibility in considering how to best care for, and bond with, their child. See the shared parental leave policy.

Pay increases awarded during paternity leave

We will ensure that whilst you are on PL you are not left out of a pay award which you would ordinarily have received. This means that if we make a pay award which takes effect during your PL, then when you return to work, you will return to the ‘new’ rate of pay that applies to the job you are returning to.

Returning to work

You can return to the same job you had before starting paternity leave on the same terms and conditions of employment as if you had not been absent.

Requesting a change to your pattern of work

You can ask to change your pattern of work (subject to eligibility criteria). See the flexible working policy.

Data protection

We will process personal data collected under the data protection policy. We keep personal and sensitive information securely. Only those who need to manage paternity leave and pay will have access to it. Inappropriate access or disclosure of personal data would breach our data protection policy and should be reported immediately.

A data breach may also constitute a disciplinary offence, which will be dealt with under the disciplinary procedure. See our guidance on data protection and cybersecurity.

Download a version of this paternity leave and pay example policy (Word, 75KB)

Page last edited May 23, 2022

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