Who's eligible and how do I get it?

If you are an employee and expecting a baby you could be entitled to paternity leave. Here we go through how you qualify for it, and how you get it.

Basically, if you have been employed by the same employer since before your partner became pregnant, you'll probably be eligible for paternity leave - but you'll need to still be employed by them when the baby is born.

The precise criteria are:

  • you must have a contract of employment (most agency workers and contractors are not eligible)
  • you must have been working for the same employer for 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the beginning of the week the baby is due (translation - about when the baby was concieved)
  • you must be either the biological father, the mother's father or partner (counts for same-sex couples too), the child's adopter or the husband or partner of the child's adopter
  • you will be involved in the care of the child and are taking time off to care for the baby or support the mother

NB. If you changed jobs very shortly before the pregnancy, you will need to check the dates.

Some employers have better eligibility terms than these so always check your contract or speak to their HR department.

How to get it

To take paternity leave you must give your employer written notice around week 25 or 26 of pregnancy.

In the case of an adoption you must give your employer written notice within seven days of being told by the adoption agency that you have been matched with a child

A simple way to give notice is to fill in a 'self-certificate'. You can download form SC3 'Becoming a parent', which works as a self-certificate.

Employers have to consider late notice and have to be reasonable about accepting it, so if you are late, give notice as soon as you can.

Your notice to your employer must say:

  • when the baby is due
  • whether you want to take one or two weeks leave and pay
  • when you want your leave to start
  • that you are the father of the child or the mother's husband or partner

Your employer might ask you to fill in a form which asks you for all this information.

What if you're not eligible?

If you don't qualify for paternity leave you have a few options:

  1. you can take unpaid emergency leave to be at the birth (this is a legal right)
  2. you can take unpaid leave
  3. you can take annual leave

Paternity leave: what if I'm self employed?


Catherine Rogan works for Working Families' advice service.

Hide comments (6)


  • Guest
    M Mooney Wednesday, 13 July 2016

    Address needed

    Where do we send the completed Statutory paternity form. We have looked on line and cannot find an address. Is it possible to get the address as we have also tried to call bur cannot get through.

    Kind regards

  • DAD.info Team 2
    DAD.info Team 2 Friday, 15 July 2016

    Hi there,

    Thanks for getting in touch.

    I would recommend you contact Citizens Advice on website https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/ as they should be able to help.

    If they are not able to provide the answer then please do come back to us.

    Kind regards

    The Dad.info Team

  • Guest
    pam Saturday, 30 July 2016

    Not worked for the same company but worked continuisly

    My husband has worked the whole time i have been pregnant and before but moved from one company to another about 2 months ago will he now not be entitled to any statutory maternity pay at all? If not will he be entitled to any other pay? His work have said he can take the time off but he will need to claim statutory himself but after reading this it looks like he will not get anything and we cant afford him to have 2 weeks off with no pay when the baby arrives :(

  • DAD.info Team 2
    DAD.info Team 2 Monday, 01 August 2016

    Hi Pam

    The Citizens Advice on website https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/ should be able to answer your question.

    Kind regards

    Dad.Info Team

  • Guest
    Daniyar Tuesday, 15 August 2017


    I started to work by the end (22) of the March 2017 as part time and I am a Full-time postgraduate student (Master). My wife gave birth 12.06.2017, the due date was 11.06.2017. for which kind of benefits I am eligible? And I could not have paternity leave ...

  • Guest
    Tamas Farkas Tuesday, 07 August 2018

    late notice

    Dear Sir/Madame

    My baby boy due dat i s 06.09.2018, and I sent the Application of Paternity Leave to my employer on 21.06.2018, 11 weeks earlier than the due date, because my wife get the MATB1 form from the midwife on 20.06.2018.
    Yesterday I asked from my employer about my Paternity leave, and they say me:
    unfortunately, you are not eligible as you did not request the leave 15 weeks prior to the due date of the baby.
    Can I do anything whit this one? I need a payed 2 weeks leave, I need to help to my wife, is boy will be a second child, and we do not have anybody who will help for us, in the first not so easy period.
    Thank you for your early reply, and help.

    Tamas Farkas

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Guest Saturday, 27 February 2021

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