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If you intend to take Ordinary Paternity Leave you have to give your employer notice that specifies: 

  • the week when your child is due to be born; 
  • the length of leave that you intend to take (up to two weeks); and 
  • the date that you have chosen your leave to begin on. 

You must give your employer this notice in, or before, the 15th week before the week the child is due. In cases where this is not possible, or reasonably practicable – for example, if the child is born prematurely or the pregnancy is discovered very late – then notice must be given as soon as is reasonably practicable. 

You should self-certificate, using Form SC3 ('Becoming a Birth Parent'), confirming you are entitled to ordinary paternity leave and pay, and you should give the form to your employer. You should keep a copy of it so both you and your employer are clear of the dates and other information provided. 

You can choose when your leave period will begin, but it must take place within 56 days (eight weeks) of the child’s birth and it must start on one of these dates: 

  • the day the child is born; 
  • a day which falls a certain number of days after the child is born, as specified by you to your employer before the child is born (for example, '14 days after the birth'); or 
  • a pre-determined date that falls after the first day of the week that the child is due, which you specify to your employer (for example, 'on 1 December'). 

As soon as is reasonably practicable after the child has been born, you must give your employer notice of the date of birth. 

You are entitled to one or two consecutive weeks’ leave in one block. There is no statutory right to single days of leave or to two separate weeks, but check whether something better has been negotiated where you work, especially if your employer recognises a union. 

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.
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