What is Paternity Pay and Paternity Leave?

Paternity leave is available to employees who have a partner that has given birth to their child. It’s also possible to receive paternity leave in cases of adoption and having a child through surrogacy.

If you qualify for paternity leave you can also be given statutory paternity pay (SPP) which is government backed financial support paid to you by your employer.

SPP is similar to statutory maternity pay  and the maternity allowance which are specifically for a mother who has given birth.

There are certain rules around qualifying for paternity pay and paternity leave. In some cases if you aren’t entitled to paternity pay you may still be able to take paternity leave.

Understanding what you are entitled to claim for and how to make a claim within the given statutory timescales is important so you don’t miss out on the financial support for your child.

To ensure that you receive the financial support you’re entitled to for your child it’s crucial to have a clear understanding of what you can claim for and the statutory paternity leave and pay deadlines.

Can I claim paternity pay?

In general but not always only individuals with an employee (not a worker) employment status are eligible for paternity pay.

If you are unsure of how the government classes your employment status you can refer to their online guidance.

To be eligible for statutory paternity pay you must fulfil the following criteria:

  • You must be the biological father of the child.
  • You must be the adopter or intended parent if you are using a surrogate.
  • You must be the husband or partner of the child’s mother, including same-sex partners.

In addition to the above you also need to meet the following criteria:

  • Maintain employment with your employer until the birth of the child.
  • Earn a minimum of £123 per week (pre-tax) on average during the 8 week period that concludes with any day in the qualifying week.
  • Provide the appropriate notice as required.
  • Have been continuously employed by your employer for at least 26 weeks leading up to any day in the “qualifying week.”
  • The “qualifying week” refers to the 15th week prior to the expected due date. However, please note that this may differ in cases of adoption. To determine the qualifying week you can use a calendar to subtract 15 weeks from the anticipated birth week of the baby.

How long do I get paternity pay for?

Statutory paternity pay and leave lasts for a minimum of one week and up to two weeks as a maximum.

The payment of SPP starts on the agreed date between the employee and the employer.

Some employees may have access to a longer period of paternity pay which is in addition to the statutory entitlement.

Additional paternity leave should be written into your contract of employment and is often known as contractual or enhanced paternity pay.

How much is paternity pay?

Statutory paternity pay is the lesser of the two options below:

  1. £184.03 per week.
  2. 90% of their average weekly earnings.

The government usually increases the value of the first options weekly amount at the start of each tax year so expect figures to change in the future.

Although funded by the government paternity pay is paid by your employer in the same way as your salary.

You can use the .GOV online tool to calculate expected paternity pay figures and to work out paternity leave and pay eligibility.

Is paternity pay taxable?

Paternity pay is taxable which means your employer will deduct applicable income tax and national insurance from your paternity payments.

SPP should show on your payslips along with all of your other income and deduction figures.

How do I claim statutory paternity pay?

Employees who wish to claim statutory paternity pay and leave should complete the process online via .GOV.

You should apply for SPP no later than fifteen weeks before the expected birth date of your baby.

To ensure that your SPP starts on the desired date, it is essential to notify your employer at least 28 days prior.

Some employers may have their own SPP form which you should be able to get from your payroll department and can be used instead of the form provided by the government.

SPP should be used within one year from the birth date or date of adoption.

Can I take paternity leave if I don’t qualify for paternity pay?

If an employee or worker does not qualify for statutory paternity pay, their employer is required to inform them in written form within a period of 28 days from the receipt of the individual’s notice.

For individuals who don’t qualify for statutory paternity pay you may still be eligible for statutory paternity leave.

  • Employees who aren’t entitled to paternity pay should still be entitled to statutory paternity leave.
  • Workers who aren’t entitled to statutory maternity leave can make arrangements with their employer to take time off after the birth by using their holiday entitlement or taking unpaid leave.
  • Unpaid parental leave is also possible for qualifying employees when a child is born.

What is shared paternity pay and leave?

In England, Scotland and Wales employees may be eligible to receive shared parental leave (SPL) and statutory shared parental pay (ShPP) if they have recently had a baby or adopted a child.

Both the SPL and ShPP should be taken within the period from the baby’s birth and first birthday alternatively with one year of adoption.

If employees meet the requirements they can commence SPL when either they or their partner decide to end their maternity or adoption leave or pay earlier than planned.

The remaining portion of leave will then be available for them to take as statutory or shared parental leave.

Employees have the option to take SPL in up to three separate blocks of leave and if their partner is also eligible, they can choose to share the leave.

Both parents are given the freedom to decide how much of the SPL each of them will take.


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