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Paternity Pay and Leave Employer Guide

Statutory Paternity Pay and Leave is available for most employees who take time off work to have a baby, adopt a child, or have a baby through a surrogacy arrangement.

Information in this Statutory Paternity Pay and Leave employer guide explains the eligibility criteria, entitlement rates, and how notice periods work.

Entitlement to Paternity Pay and Leave UK

Note: Another section contains information about your entitlement to Paternity Pay and Leave as an employee.

Statutory Paternity Leave

The maximum time employees can take is one (1) week or two (2) consecutive weeks of leave – even if they have two or more children (e.g. twins).

Even though employee Statutory Paternity Leave cannot begin before the birth, the start date must be (either):

  • The actual date that the birth took place.
  • An agreed number of days after the birth (or the expected week of childbirth).

Employees must finish taking their leave within fifty six (56) days of the birth (or due date for premature births). But, the rules around the start and end dates differ for employees who are adopting (details below).

Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP)

After deducting tax and National Insurance, Statutory Paternity Pay for employees who qualify will be the lesser amount of £156.66 a week or 90% of average weekly earnings.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) produce further guidance about the different rules of entitlement for certain employment types (e.g. agency workers, directors, educational workers).

Note: Employers can use the Statutory Paternity Pay calculator to work out paternity leave and pay for staff.

Offering Over the Statutory Amounts

Employers have the right to offer extra leave or pay to their employees if (either):

  • The employee’s partner returns to work and they qualify for Shared Parental Leave and Pay.
  • The company scheme offers more than the statutory limits (policies must be clear and easily accessible to staff).

Unpaid Leave for Antenatal Appointments

Your employee will be able to take leave for antenatal appointments and accompany a pregnant woman (for two appointments of up to 6.5 half hours each), such as when they are the:

  • Father of the baby.
  • Spouse or civil partner of the expectant mother (or in a long term relationship with them).
  • Intended parent (when having a baby through a surrogacy arrangement).

What if the Baby Dies?

As a rule, employees would still meet the qualification criteria for Paternity Leave and Pay even if the baby:

  • Dies after being born (at any point in the pregnancy).
  • Is stillborn if it happens after the start of the 24th week of pregnancy.

Note: UK employment law protects employee rights when on leave after having a child (e.g. holidays, pay, and returning to a job). Furthermore, you still need to pay Statutory Paternity Pay (SMP) if you cease trading.

Statutory Paternity Pay and Leave Eligibility

Employees can take time off work to look after a child (or partner) if they are either the:

Furthermore, your employee must also:

  • Be in employee status (only needed for paternity leave).
  • Be in your employment up to the date that the child is born or placed with an adopter (for paternity pay).
  • Show up on your payroll and be earning at least £123 a week (gross) in an eight (8) week ‘relevant period’ (for paternity pay).
  • Be responsible for the general upbringing of the child.
  • Have been in continuous employment with you for a period of at least twenty six (26) weeks up to any day of the ‘qualifying week’ (15th week before the baby is due – unless adopting) and supply you with correct notice (see below).

Employers can use the Statutory Paternity Pay calculator to check eligibility and work out the relevant period, notice period, and paternity pay.

HMRC produce guidance explaining how employee circumstances affect payment (e.g. when they get sick, die, or the child dies).

Note: Employees may still qualify provided they usually earn an average of at least £123 a week, even if they earned less in some weeks due to being ‘on furlough’ under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Premature Births

Employees still qualify in cases where they worked for you continuously for a period of at least twenty six (26) weeks by the qualifying week if the child is born early.

You may need to work out employee payments manually for Statutory Paternity Pay for some incidents of very premature births (e.g. babies born fifteen (15) weeks or more before the actual due date).

Employees Using a Surrogacy Arrangement

Parents who are planning to have a child through a surrogacy arrangement may also meet the eligibility criteria for Statutory Paternity Pay and Leave.

Employers can ask for a written statement that confirms an intention to apply for a parental order in the six (6) months after childbirth. The employee must sign the statement in the presence of a legal professional.

Note: Employees who take Shared Parental Leave cannot get Statutory Paternity Pay and Leave at the same time.

Employee Notice Periods

The notice period that an employee needs to give, and the required forms, are different if they are adopting a child.

Statutory Paternity Leave

Notice only needs to be in writing if an employer requests it. For Statutory Maternity Leave, employees must – at least 15 weeks before the expected birth date – give notice about:

  • The actual date that the baby is due.
  • How much leave they want and when they want it to start (can be changed with 28 days of notice).

Employees need to use form SC3 to apply to their employer to get Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP) and Leave.

Statutory Paternity Pay

Employees should also use form SC3 to request paternity pay (the original goes to the employer). The request should be at least fifteen (15) weeks before the week that the baby is expected (or a version you made).

Note: Employees who are having a baby through a surrogacy arrangement, and those who are adopting, need to apply to their employer for Statutory Paternity Pay and Leave using form SC4.

Delaying Employee Notice

Employers can delay employee leave or pay start date if they fail to give the right amount of notice (without a reasonable excuse). You would need to write to the employee within twenty eight (28) days of their request for leave to delay it.

Adoption and Pay and Leave

Employees who are adopting a child can also get paternity leave and pay if they meet the eligibility criteria. You may need to use the online calculator to work out your employee’s paternity leave and pay (or do it manually for overseas adoptions).

Employee Eligibility

Besides meeting the eligibility conditions for paternity leave or pay, employees who are adopting a child also need to:

  • Have been in continuous employment with the same employer for at least twenty six (26) weeks up to any day in the week they got matched with a child (for United Kingdom adoptions).
  • Have been in continuous employment with the same employer for at least twenty six (26) weeks by either (overseas adoptions):
    • The date that the child arrives in the United Kingdom.
    • The date when they want their pay to start.
  • Use form SC6 to confirm their partner is receiving Statutory Adoption Pay (or confirm it in writing).

The Notice Period

Employees who are becoming an adoptive or parental order parent can use form (SC4) to get:

  • Leave (within seven days of their co-adopter or partner getting matched with a child).
  • Pay (twenty eight days before their pay can start).

Note: Form SC5 is for employees who are adopting a child from overseas to apply for Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP) or paternity leave.

Starting Employee Leave

If your employee takes paternity leave because they are adopting a child can start their leave on the actual date of placement, or on:

  • An agreed number of days beginning after the date of placement.
  • The date that the child arrives in the United Kingdom or an agreed number of days afterward (for overseas adoptions). But, it must be taken within 56 days of the date of the child’s placement or arrival in the United Kingdom.

Getting Proof of Adoption

Employers must get proof of adoption from employees (and keep records) who qualify for paternity pay (not usually required for paternity leave). The evidence can be their matching certificate or a letter supplied by the adoption agency.

Refuse Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP1)

Employers can refuse to pay SPP if an employee fails to give notice (without a reasonable excuse) or they do not meet the eligibility criteria.

There is a special form for employers to fill in and give to employees who are not entitled to Statutory Paternity Pay. Thus, give your employee ‘form SPP1‘ within 28 days of your decision and keep a copy in your records.

Keeping Records for HMRC

HM Revenue and Customs require employers to keep records (e.g. using record sheet SPP2) for at least three (3) years from the end of the relevant tax year. The records must include:

  • A letter from the adoption agency or a matching certificate (if the employee is adopting).
  • Start date for Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP) and what payments were made (including the dates).
  • Details of any statutory payments you reclaimed.
  • Information about any weeks you did not pay and the reason for not doing so.

Note: If you can get financial help with statutory pay you may be able to reclaim 92% of payments and apply for an advance if you are unable to make the payments.

Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP) and Leave: Employer Guide for United Kingdom