UK Paternity Leave
01 April 2023
In the UK, employees are entitled to Paternity Leave when their partner has a baby. Eligible employees can choose to take up to two consecutive weeks’ leave.
Paternity leave cannot start before the birth but it can start from:
- the actual date of birth; or
- after the birth.
Paternity leave must finish within 56 days of the birth (or the due date if the baby is early).
The eligible employee may also take unpaid leave to accompany their partner to two antenatal appointments of up to six and a half hours each.
The entitlement to statutory paternity leave based on the applicable eligibility criteria referenced below is up to 2 weeks. Your employee can take either 1 week or 2 weeks of leave and it must be taken as one period of leave.
Your employee must complete and provide you with a copy of this online form (previously known as an SC3 form) to confirm that they are expecting a baby. A copy of this must be provided to your payroll provider as soon as possible after you have been notified of the upcoming leave.
You must not pay Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP) unless you get this form from your employee.
Whether you have to pay SPP to an expectant employee depends on how long they have worked for you and how much they earn.
Your employee must be taking leave to care for the child and have responsibility for the child’s upbringing, as well as be one of the following:
- The father;
- The husband or partner;
- The adopter;
- The intended parent.
For an employee to be considered eligible for statutory paternity leave, they must:
- be an employee;
- provide the correct notice of intention to take leave;
- have worked for you continuously, full or part time for at least 26 weeks up to and into the 15th week before the week the baby is due.
For an employee to be considered eligible for SPP, they must:
- have worked for you continuously, full or part time for at least 26 weeks up to and into the 15th week before the week the baby is due;
- be employed by you up to the date of birth;
- earn at least £123 a week (gross);
- provide the completed form linked above and sufficient notice of when they would like leave to start.
The statutory weekly rate of SPP is £172.48 or 90% of average weekly earnings, whichever is lower (amount correct as of April 2023).
If earnings are below the Lower Earnings Limit (£123 per week) or the employee is not entitled to SPP, they may be entitled to other financial support from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
In addition to the statutory pay, we typically see employer’s ‘top-up’ any entitlement to statutory pay to the employee’s full rate of pay for a number of weeks as part of their discretionary Company policy and benefits offering. We typically see 2 weeks at the employee’s full rate of pay with applicable terms and conditions as the Company sees necessary. How much top up the Company offers, if any, is a commercial decision and can be communicated to the employee via a paternity confirmation letter.
Processing any discretionary top up through the payroll is relatively straightforward, this will simply need to be communicated to your payroll provider with a copy of the written agreement supplied for confirmation.
Statutory Paternity Pay is subject to Pay As You Earn (PAYE) income tax and National Insurance Contributions (NICs) may be deducted.
Employers may also be able to recover up to 92% of SPP via reduced employer NICs. The reclaim is carried out automatically through the employee payroll system by reducing the total PAYE liability.
Employees who are eligible for Paternity Leave may also be entitled to Shared Parental Leave and Pay. You can find more information on Shared Parental Leave here.
It is important to seek professional advice as early as possible to determine eligibility for any kind of statutory payment and what costs may be recoverable.
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