Statutory paternity leave: what’s changing?

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Statutory paternity leave is offered to employees who are having a baby, adopting a child or having a baby via surrogacy.

Currently, the baby’s father or the mother’s partner (the non-birthing parent) can only take paternity leave in one continuous block of one or two weeks within the first eight weeks after the birth and must give at least 15 weeks’ notice to their employer of when they intend to take leave. These timeframes differ for those adopting a child.

The Government has now announced changes to statutory paternity leave, coming into effect on 8th March 2024.

Changes to statutory paternity leave

The new legislation, the Paternity Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024, will come into effect on 8th March 2024 and will apply to all cases where the Expected Week of Childbirth (EWC) falls on or after 6th April 2024, and to children who expect to be placed for adoption on or after 6th April 2024.

From this date, the rules around how and when statutory paternity leave can be taken will be relaxed.

Current legislation New legislation
Notice must be given to the employer at least 15 weeks before the EWC

Notice must be given to the employer four weeks before EWC, except in cases of domestic adoption, where the notice period will remain within seven days of the adopter receiving notice of the match


Eligible employees may now give only 28 days’ notice to vary the date of their planned leave if desired

Leave must be taken within the first eight weeks after birth Employees will be able to take paternity leave at any time in the 52 weeks after birth/adoption
Leave can only be taken in one continuous block of one or two weeks Leave can be split into two separate blocks of one week

Currently, employers have the option to ask the employee to sign a declaration that they are an eligible parent and are using their paternity leave for legitimate purposes, i.e. to care for the child. From 6th April, employees must declare their eligibility for parental leave and its legitimacy.

These changes to statutory paternity leave provide the non-birthing parent with greater flexibility and those who were not previously able to take continuous blocks will no longer lose out.

What isn’t changing?

Changes to eligibility and Statutory Paternity Pay are staying the same, and employers are not allowed to pay less than the statutory amounts. You are also not able to postpone statutory paternity leave or ask that it be taken at a different time.

Employees are still unable to take statutory paternity leave if they have already taken shared parental leave.

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How much is statutory paternity leave?

The weekly rate of Statutory Paternity Pay is increasing slightly in April 2024 to £184.03, or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is lower).

As an employer, you can choose to offer full pay for some or all of an employee’s paternity leave, as you can with maternity or parental leave.

Who qualifies for statutory paternity leave?

To be eligible for statutory paternity leave and pay, employees must have been continuously employed for at least 26 weeks up to any day in the ‘qualifying week’, i.e. the 15th week before the baby is due. They must also earn at least £123 a week before tax.

If an employee is adopting, they must have been continuously for at least 26 weeks by the ‘matching week’. This is either the end of the week they are matched with the child (for UK adoptions) or the date the child enters the UK in overseas adoptions.

Employees who are adopting cannot receive statutory paternity pay and leave if they have taken paid time off to attend adoption appointments.

How should employers prepare for changes to paternity leave?

As with any legislation change in employment law, employers should update any relevant documents including contracts, policies and procedures to reflect this change in legislation.

It is also good practice to brief managers on what is changing and communicate these adjustments to paternity leave (and remind your workforce of your enhanced paternity pay offering, if applicable) to all staff, as many will be unaware of what is changing.

Contact our employment solicitors in Bristol

These paternity law changes will affect employees and employers in England, Wales and Scotland. If you have any concerns about how the new changes may affect you or you need help with updating policies or procedures, get in touch with our specialist employment solicitors.

Call us today on 0117 325 2929 or complete our online enquiry form.


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