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Paternity leave and pay

The right to take up to two weeks' ordinary paternity leave and pay is available to eligible employees around the time of the birth or adoption of a child.
Until April 2016, those eligible to take ordinary paternity leave whose babies were due before 5 April 2015 were also able to take a period of additional paternity leave once their partner returned to work. Shared parental leave, which can be taken in a more flexible way, has now replaced additional paternity leave for those employees with babies born/children matched for adoption after that date.

Key points

  • Eligible employees are entitled to one or two consecutive weeks' ordinary paternity leave and pay, paid at £151.97 per week from 4 April 2021 (see our ‘Statutory rates’ page for historic rates), on the birth or adoption of a child or within up to 56 days' of the birth or adoption.
  • Employees, and qualifying agency workers, are entitled to take unpaid time off to accompany their pregnant partner to up to two ante-natal appointments.
  • Eligible employees may be able to take periods of shared parental leave (and possibly pay) which must be taken within a year of the child's birth or adoption.
  • Employees will lose the right to ordinary paternity leave if they take a period of shared parental leave in relation to the child first.

Recent developments

Staff returning from paternity leave can still be furloughed

The government has outlined that despite the initial closure of the furlough scheme, due on 30 June, those who have been on paternity leave will still be able to be furloughed. 

As was previously known, whilst the Job Retention Scheme has been extended until October, claims from July 1 onwards will be restricted to those who are already on the scheme. Essentially, this means that staff must be furloughed from 10 June in order to benefit from it going forward. This will enable the introduction of flexible furlough in July. 

However, the government has confirmed that parents on statutory paternity leave, who return to work after a long period of absence, will still be able to be furloughed and therefore join the scheme past the 10 June cut-off date. This is to avoid working parents facing hardships as a result of their family leave. 

Government consultation examining family-friendly leave entitlements

A government consultation, released in July 2019, is looking at whether leave entitlements need amending to ensure these reflect modern childcare arrangements and provide equality to parents.

The consultation is considering:

  • whether statutory paternity leave needs changing
  • whether any improvements to shared parental leave could be introduced
  • the introduction of an entitlement to one week's Neonatal Leave and Pay for each week a premature or sick baby is in neonatal care, ensuring the parent can be with the baby once they are released from hospital even though their paternity leave is likely to have been exhaused.

This consultation is running alongside the government examining whether employers should be required to publish their family-friendly leave and pay policies, as well as their flexible working policies.