Paternity Rights

Paternity employment rights and payments including how to challenge discrimination using the Equality Act (2010).

Appointment Leave

You are entitled to paid time off to attend 2 ante-natal appointments with your partner. This is limited to a maximum of 6.5 hours per appointment, so 13 hours in total and includes travelling and waiting time, not just for how long the appointment actually lasts.
It may be helpful to speak to your partner about which appointments you want to attend. You may want to attend ones closer to the start or the end of the pregnancy, or you may wish to attend specific scan appointments.
You could discuss with your employer about flexible working if you want to attend more than the 2 appointments you are entitled to be paid for. You could see if your employer will let you take unpaid leave, consider flexible working for that day and make your hours up elsewhere or use holiday leave.

Statutory Paternity Pay/Leave

Statutory Paternity Pay is payment from your employer that you receive after the birth or adoption of a child whilst you are on Statutory Paternity Leave, which is the period of time you are off work for. This is different to Shared Parental Leave.

Statutory Paternity Leave is limited to a maximum of 2 weeks. This is the same whether your partner gives birth to one child or multiple children.

Eligibility Statutory Paternity Pay

In order to be eligible for Statutory Paternity Pay you must meet certain eligibility criteria and there are some similarities to the eligibility criteria for Statutory Maternity Pay. 

You need to:

  • be the biological father of the child, or be married to or be the partner or civil partner of the child’s mother
  • have been continuously employed for at least 26 weeks before the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth
  • be continuously employed from the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth and the date of the birth
  • have, or expect to have, responsibility for the upbringing of the child (or would have had if the child had not died) along with the child’s mother
  • intend to care for the child or support the child’s mother while receiving SPP

You also need to meet the income eligibility requirements which is that you must have earned at least £123 per week over an 8-week period ending with, and including, the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth. This is the same amount and criteria for Statutory Maternity Pay.

You can qualify for Statutory Paternity Pay if you are an employee, agency worker or zero-hour worker and take time off immediately after the birth of your child. 

How Much?

Statutory Paternity Pay is the same as Statutory Maternity Pay in that it is either £172.48 per week or 90% of your average weekly earnings, whichever is lower. Your employer may offer enhanced paternity pay and/or leave. You should look at your contract of employment, employee handbook or speak to your HR department for more information. 

Statutory Paternity Leave

You can take either 1 or 2 weeks of Statutory Paternity Leave. You must take them at one time. You cannot take 1 week after the birth, return to work and then take another week later. See this page for more information about Shared Parental Leave/Pay (insert link to page). 

You can only take Statutory Paternity Leave after your child is born. It does not have to be taken immediately after your child is born but it needs to end 56 days after birth. 

You only qualify for Statutory Paternity Leave if you are an employee as opposed to a worker. 

To claim, there is an online form that can be accessed here. Once you have completed the form you can download it and either print it or email it your employer. The form used to be called an SC3 form. 

Don’t worry about providing exact dates – we all know that babies don’t always come along when they’re expected to. However, if you want to take your Statutory Paternity Leave as soon as your baby is born you can state on the application that you want your leave to start from the day of birth. You will also need to say whether you want to take 1 or 2 weeks of leave. 

If you want to change the date your Statutory Paternity Leave starts you need to give 28 days’ notice.

If you lose the baby after 24 weeks and it is stillborn, or if it is born alive at any point in the pregnancy you retain your right to Statutory Paternity Pay and Leave.

Shared Parental Leave

Prior to 2015, parents could only take either maternity or paternity leave in their own right. Since 2015, parents can be entitled to Shared Parental Leave which allows them to share the time off that they have and be paid for it too.

The first 2 weeks of Shared Parental Leave, or the first 4 weeks if the mother works in a factory, must be taken by the mother for health and safety reasons. After this period, the leave can be split however the parents decide. The maximum number of weeks that can be shared is therefore 50 weeks, or 48 weeks if the mother works in a factory. The same applies to Shared Parental Pay as well, which would be either 37 or 35 weeks. 

The leave and pay needs to be taken within a year of your child being born. 

Shared Parental Leave is different to Maternity Leave and so this can seem a bit confusing. Here is one example:

Flora and Michael have their baby and Flora takes 26 weeks of Maternity Leave from her employer. Michael took his 2 weeks of Paternity Leave after their baby was born. Flora then ends her Maternity Leave which means there is a further 26 weeks available for Shared Parental Leave. 

Flora decides to return to work for 13 weeks whilst Michael has 13 weeks off work using the Shared Parental Leave. For the last 13 weeks, Michael goes back to work and Flora uses the last 13 weeks of Shared Parental Leave.

This website has more examples about Shared Parental Leave.

Both parents can be off at the same time – the mother can be using her Maternity Leave and the other parent can be using Shared Parental Leave. However, the total number of weeks taken cannot exceed 52.

Both parents need to meet the eligibility criteria for Shared Parental Leave. You can only get Shared Parental Leave if you are an employee. If you are a worker, you will not qualify. If you’re not sure about your employment status, you can check here.

Both Parents must:

  • have been employed continuously by the same employer for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the due date
  • stay with the same employer until your Shared Parental Leave starts

The partner must:


  • have been working for at least 26 weeks – these don’t have to be continuous, and this can include self-employment
  • have earned at least £30 a week on average in 13 of the 66 weeks – these don’t have to be continuous, and you can choose your highest earning weeks

Shared Parental Pay

As well as having Shared Parental Leave, you can also have Shared Parental Pay.

As well as meeting the criteria for Shared Parental Leave you also need to:

  • Have earned at least £123 per week, on average, over an 8-week period before the 15th week before your child is expected to be born

The rules for qualifying for Shared Parental Pay are the same as qualifying for Statutory Maternity Pay and Statutory Paternity Pay. If you qualify for either of those, you will qualify for Shared Parental Pay too. 

Shared Parental Pay is the same as both Statutory Maternity Pay or Statutory Paternity Pay which is £172.48 per week or 90% of your average weekly earnings, whichever is lower. 

Your employer may offer Contractual or Enhanced Shared Parental Leave. Your employer or your employment contract should tell you what you are entitled to.

Keeping In Touch/Shared Parental In Touch Days

Like mothers taking maternity leave who can work up to 10 Keeping In Touch days without it affecting their maternity leave and pay, parents taking Shared Parental Leave can also share up to 20 Shared Parental In Touch Days.

The rules for SPLIT days are the same as for KIT days.

There are also more details and answers to more specific questions here.

Flexible Working

It is not just mothers who are entitled to make requests for flexible working. 

There may be many reasons why you need to change your working days and/or hours and you can make a request for flexible working. Flexible working requests are a statutory right for all workers, not just parents or carers, but this group of workers is probably most likely to make such a request. 

You can make a request for flexible working either formally or informally. To make a formal request, called a Statutory Application, you must have worked for your employer for 26 weeks and you must not have made an application in the last 12 months.

Your application must be in writing and must include:

  • the date
  • a statement that this is a statutory request
  • details of how you want to work flexibly and when you want this to start
  • an explanation of how you think flexible working might affect the business and how this could be dealt with, for example if you’re not at work on certain days
  • a statement saying if, and when, you’ve made a previous application

In response, your employer must reasonably consider your request and decide within 3 months, unless a longer deadline is agreed with you. 

There is no definition as to what ‘reasonably consider’ means however, refusing your request instantly or having a blanket policy for such requests is unlikely to be reasonable. 

You can read the ACAS Code of Practice on how your employer should handle your requests here.

There is more information about making a statutory request here.

You can also make an informal request, which is advisable to do in writing so there is a record of it being made and no confusion as to what has been requested. There is no specific time limit for your employer to deal with an informal request. Your employer handbook may have more details about making either a formal or informal request.


You are entitled to protection from unfair treatment or dismissal under the Equality Act 2010 on the grounds of maternity and shared parental leave.

This means that your employer cannot treat you in an unfair manner because you are or were on Shared Parental Leave. This could include not being given a promotion because you were on Shared Parental Leave, or being selected for redundancy because you were on Shared Parental Leave.

It is possible for these events to happen but as long as the reason isn’t because of you being on Shared Parental Leave then it is not discrimination. For example, you may be selected for redundancy because of changes affecting your specific department or job role.

If you think you have been treated unfairly and been discriminated against the first stage would be to talk to your employer in the first instance. This can be done in person or in writing, but we would advise you to follow up any in-person discussions with written confirmation so there is a record of what has been said. Your employer might invite you to a meeting. You can ask if a colleague, or if you are a member of a trade union, a representative, attend with you. 

If this doesn’t work, you should raise a formal grievance. There should be information about how to do this and your employer’s specific grievance policy in your employee handbook or contract of employment. 

If your employer does not have a specific grievance policy they should follow the ACAS Code of Practice which can be found here.

You should start this as soon as possible as there are time limits for bringing claims to the Employment Tribunal. The deadline is 3 months minus 1 day from the event happening.