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Paternity leave and pay entitlements

A guide for RCN members covering paternity leave and pay entitlements. 

Getting started: working out dates

There are deadlines within the pregnancy period that need to be met to obtain certain entitlements. To help you understand your entitlements, note down the following on a piece of paper:

  • the estimated week of childbirth/confinement
  • (EWC) – roughly week 40 of pregnancy but you must use the dates outlined on the MATB1 form for your calculations
  • the 22nd week before EWC – this will be the start of the reference period, which is important when calculating full pay for certain statutory and/or contractual pay entitlements
  • the 15th week before EWC – this will be referred to throughout as the qualifying week. This week is also the end of the reference period.
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Informing your employer

You must inform your employer of your intention to take paternity leave no later than the qualifying week. You must also give at least four weeks’ notice of the actual dates of the paternity leave to be taken. Ordinary paternity leave is for two weeks, which must be taken in full within 56 days (eight weeks) of the child’s birth.

Your employer will ask you to sign a Becoming a Parent (SC3) form. They will accept this form as proof of your eligibility and should not require medical evidence of the pregnancy.

If the baby is born later than the notification you originally gave your employer then you can delay the start of your paternity leave until the baby is born. You will need to provide your employer with a written notice of the required change.

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Ordinary statutory paternity leave and pay

You may be entitled to ordinary statutory paternity leave and pay if you satisfy the following conditions:

  • you are the biological father of the child
  • you are the mother’s partner or husband (including same-sex partners) but not the biological father
  • you are the child’s adopter or partner/husband of the adopter.

If you are not the child’s biological father you have to show that you have, or expect to have, responsibility for the upbringing of the child and are married to, or are the partner of, the child’s mother. Assuming you satisfy one of the above criteria, in order to qualify for ordinary statutory paternity leave and pay you must also have completed 26 weeks continuous service for your employer by the qualifying week.

To qualify for Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP) your average weekly earnings in the reference period must be at least equal to the lower earnings limit for national insurance contributions. For information on the current LEL and SPP rates please go to

In addition, you could have the right to share statutory entitlements to leave and pay with your partner. You can read more in shared parental leave (ShPL).

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Paternity leave and pay under Agenda for Change (AFC)

Section 35 of the Agenda for Change terms and conditions handbook outlines information about NHS entitlement and qualifying criteria.

Eligibility for occupational paid paternity pay will be 12 months continuous service with one or more NHS employers at the beginning of the week in which the baby is due (the qualifying week). Those who qualify will be entitled to two weeks paid paternity leave, which must be taken together. You may choose to take only one week but you would lose the other week. NHS employees can also take advantage of the additional paternity leave and additional paternity pay provisions outlined above, subject to the relevant criteria.

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Moving between NHS employers

For the purposes of SPP, HM Revenue and Customs treats each NHS trust as a separate employer. If you change NHS employers you may lose your entitlement to SPP.

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Multiple births

Entitlements to paternity leave and pay are unaffected by multiple births; there will be no doubling/tripling of leave or pay entitlements. However, there may be other allowances such as Child Benefit, which can be claimed for each child.

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Working for more than one employer

If you work for more than one employer you will be entitled to paternity leave and pay with both employers, provided you meet the normal qualification criteria and give the correct notice.

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Call the RCN on: 03457726100

Page last updated - 25/01/2018