The Professional Mum - Paternity Leave

We’ve previously talked about maternity leave in this column, but how paternity leave works is also of interest to the Professional Mum, not least because the Additional Paternity Leave that your partner could be eligible for can be influenced by your own return to work.

Dads who take time off because their partner is having a baby or adopting a child could be eligible for paid Ordinary Paternity Leave. They may also be eligible for up to 26 weeks Additional Paternity Leave, but only if the mother/co-adopter returns to work.

Ordinary Paternity Leave is for either 1 or 2 weeks (even if the partner has a multiple birth). Leave can’t start before the baby is born and must end within 56 days of the birth (the employer must be given 28 days notice of change to the start date). Leave must be taken in one go, and a week consists of regular working days. For example, if the Dad only works on Mondays and Tuesdays then a week is 2 days. To qualify for Ordinary Paternity Leave he must be an employee, have worked for his employer continuously for at least 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth (known as the qualifying week) and must give the correct notice.

Additional Paternity Leave depends on how much unused maternity leave or adoption leave the partner has. The employer must confirm the Dad’s start and end dates when the leave is claimed. Leave can start 20 weeks after the birth, adoption, or in the case of overseas adoptions, the child’s arrival in the UK, if the partner has returned to work. It must stop on the child’s 1st birthday, or, if adopting, within 1 year of the date that the child started living with its adoptive parents.

For further details on paternity leave & pay, with full eligibility criteria visit