If you’re a new dad, you’ll likely want to take some time off after your baby is born. And both mum and baby will benefit from the extra care.

If you’re an employee and have been working for your employer for six months or more, you’re entitled to take two weeks’ leave around the time of your baby’s birth or adoption. It must be taken within 56 days (eight weeks) of the birth. This is called paternity leave.

Both heterosexual and same-sex couples can take paternity leave. If your partner is having a baby and you expect to have parental responsibility for the child, then you’re eligible for paternity leave.

But if you’re not an employee, you aren’t entitled to paternity leave.

Paternity leave is paid for just two weeks at either £140.98 or 90% of earnings, whichever is lower. But your employer may have a more generous policy than the legal minimum.

The law allows you to take either one or two consecutive weeks in a block. It does not allow you to take odd days, or two separate weeks, but your employer may be more flexible.

It’s against the law for your employer to dismiss you, or treat you at all unfavourably, for taking paternity leave.

As well as paternity leave, you may be entitled to shared parental leave, which allows you to divide the mother’s leave between both parents.

Are you a rep? You can find more practical advice on a range of workplace issues in our support for reps section

Common
questions
Who's entitled to paternity leave?
Ordinary Paternity Leave is the right for a woman’s partner to take one or two weeks’ leave around the time of the birth or adoption. The leave is intended to help care for a new baby or to support the mother, so it must be taken within eight weeks of birth or adoption.
Can my employer dismiss me if they think I’m going to take paternity leave or if I’ve asked to take paternity leave?
It's against the law for your employer to dismiss you, or penalise you in any way, for asking to take Ordinary Paternity Leave or Shared Parental Leave.
Do paternity rights only apply to men in married couples?
No. Paternity leave and pay can be claimed by one of the people within any couple, whether heterosexual or same-sex and whether married, in a civil partnership or co-habiting.