Paternity leave

Last updated March 2024

New provisions apply for babies whose expected week of birth begins after 6 April 2024, and to children whose expected date of placement for adoption, or expected date of entry into Great Britain for adoption, is on or after 6 April 2024.

  • Leave may be taken in two separate one-week blocks.
  • Leave may be taken at any time during the first year after the birth or adoption (rather than within the first 56 days).
  • Notice periods have changed: notice of the intention to take leave must be given by the Qualifying Week, and notice of the dates of leave must be given at least 28 days in advance.

It is essential to read all the guidance in this section to ensure that the employee and their department are aware of all the provisions of the paternity leave and pay scheme, especially those relating to contractual entitlements.

In cases of surrogacy, one parent may be eligible for adoption leave and the other for paternity leave.  Departmental HR staff should seek advice from their HRBP.

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Employees who wish to take time off because their partner is having a baby, adopting a child or having a baby through a surrogacy arrangement may be entitled to paternity leave.

Paternity leave is time off work in order to support the mother or primary adopter, and care for the child.

All eligible employees may be able to take up to two weeks' paternity leave which may be available at full pay.   The leave may be taken as a block of either one or two weeks, or in two separate blocks of one week.  Paternity leave must be taken in the first year following the birth or adoption of a child or children.*

Employees may also be eligible for:

  • Shared Parental Leave (SPL)
  • Statutory Unpaid Parental Leave
  • And to request flexible working (ie a change to their hours, times or place of work) 

Employees can also request to take annual leave to supplement a period of family leave, and may wish to explore whether additional annual leave is available in their department.

Follow the links on the right-hand side of this page for more information.

*the amount of leave and pay available is a personal entitlement for the parent and is not altered in the event of a multiple birth, or the adoption of two or more children together.

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In all cases the employee must have, or expect to have, the main responsibility (apart from the birth mother/adopter) for bringing up the child, and intend to take time off to look after the child.

Contractual leave and pay

The University operates a 'Day One' scheme for paternity leave and pay which means that to be eligible for contractual paternity leave and pay an employee must:

  • have started work with the University before the EWC/expected week of placement of the child, and before any period of leave begins;
  • give the correct notice to their department (see below); and
  • have a contract of employment which will continue for the whole period of the planned leave

If an employee meets the above criteria they will qualify for the University’s contractual paternity pay scheme, under which an employee is entitled to receive up to two weeks’ pay paid at their normal full-rate of pay.

Where an employee starts work for the University after their child is born/placed for adoption and they have not taken their 2 weeks leave and pay entitlement with their previous employer, they may take any unused portion of their leave and pay entitlements with the University, as long as this is completed within the first 52 weeks after the birth/placement.

Statutory leave and pay

An employee can qualify for the contractual leave and pay whether or not they  meet the statutory paternity pay criteria which are: 

  • to have been employed by the University for at least 26 weeks by the end of the qualifying week (for adoptions, this is the week in which the adoptive parents receive notification that they are matched with a child) 
  • and earn a salary equivalent to the Lower Earnings Limit (LEL) or more (an amount set by the government) a week

Where statutory pay criteria are met, statutory paternity pay is incorporated into the full pay, it is not paid in addition to full pay.  Where statutory pay is not due, departments cannot offset this portion of the payment, but the individual continues to receive full pay.

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An employee intending to take paternity leave must tell their department at the latest during the Qualifying Week ie the 15th week before the EWC.   Part A of the Paternity Leave Plan  should be completed and returned to the Head of Administration and Finance/Departmental Administrator (or equivalent) in good time. If that is not possible (for example if the baby is born prematurely or if the employee starts their employment after this date  then the employee should notify their department as soon as is reasonably practicable. The Plan should include the following confirmations:

  1. that the employee's partner is pregnant, or is due to adopt a child
  2. the date of the EWC or of adoption
  3. that they meet the eligibility criteria

The employee must give their department at least 28 days’ notice of the start date of each block of paternity leave by completing Part B of the Plan. Part B may be completed at the same time as Part A, or completed later. If the employee intends to take two separate blocks of leave they can give notice for each block separately provided that they do so at least 28 days before the start date for each block.

If the employee subsequently decides that they wish to change the date on which the leave and pay begins they should give their department at least 28 days' notice of the new date, or as much notice as is reasonably practicable.

In the event that the baby is born early the notice periods may be waived

See below notes on miscarriage and still birth.

Once the birth or placement has occurred, the employee should also inform their department of the actual date of birth or placement, as soon as is reasonably practicable.

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Prospective fathers (or a mother’s/adoptive parent's partner) are entitled to unpaid time off to attend up to two antenatal appointments.

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During any paternity leave period, the department may make reasonable contact with the employee and, in the same way, the employee may make contact with their department. The frequency and nature of the contact will depend on a number of factors, such as the length of leave and the nature of the work. Departments and their employees will find it helpful, before paternity leave starts, to discuss arrangements for staying in touch. This might include agreements on the way in which contact will happen, how often and who will initiate the contact. It might also cover the reasons for making contact and the types of issues that might be discussed.

The employing department should, in any event, keep their employees informed of any information relating to their employment that they would normally be made aware of if they were working.

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During the whole period of paternity leave the employee is entitled to receive all their contractual benefits with the exception of remuneration. This includes all non-cash benefits such as childcare vouchers.

Contractual annual leave (including bank holidays and fixed closure days) will accrue throughout the full period of paternity leave.

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In the sad event of a child being stillborn after the mother had reached her 24th week of pregnancy the employee is still entitled to paternity leave and pay provided they meet the eligibility criteria. If the still birth or miscarriage occurs before the 24th week, paternity leave and pay is not available, but departments should consider granting compassionate leave.

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If an employee's personal situation is not covered by this guidance they should contact their HAF/Departmental Administrator (or equivalent) for further information in the first instance.

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