Eligible employees can choose to take a single block of either one week's or two weeks' paternity leave. They cannot take it as odd days or as two separate weeks.
The duration of paternity leave remains the same regardless of the number of children resulting from a single pregnancy.
When can an employee start their paternity leave?
An employee cannot start their paternity leave until the birth of the baby. Otherwise, an employee can choose to start their leave:
- On the actual date of the baby's birth (whether earlier or later than expected).
- On a date - as the employee has notified to you - falling a specified number of days after the actual birth date (whether earlier or later than expected).
- On a date - as the employee has notified to you - falling after the first day of the expected week of childbirth (EWC). If the baby is born later than this date, they must delay their leave until the date of the actual birth.
Employees must give you the required notice of their paternity leave - see employee notification of paternity leave - births and employee notification of paternity leave - adoptions and surrogacy arrangements.
If an employee specifies the date of birth as the day they wish to start their leave and they are at work on that day, their leave will begin on the next day.
Changing the start date of paternity leave
If the employee wants to change the start date of their paternity leave, they must give you the following notice:
- if they want to change their leave so it starts on the date of birth, at least 28 days before the first day of the EWC
- if they want to change their leave so it starts on a particular date, 28 days before that date
- if they want to change their leave so it starts a specified number of days after the birth, at least 28 days before the date falling the same number of days after the first day of the EWC, eg if the employee wants to start their leave 14 days after the birth and the EWC begins on 16 July, they must notify you of the new date on 2 July, ie 28 days before 14 days after 16 July
If they can't give the notice in time, they should tell you as soon as is reasonably practicable.
Where an employee has changed the start date of their leave, they should fill in a new self certificate - see statutory paternity pay.
What's the latest the employee can take leave?
As long as the employee has given the required notice, their paternity leave can start on any day of the week. However, their leave must finish:
- within 56 days of the actual birth date
- if the child is born earlier than expected, between the birth and 56 days from the first day of the EWC