Paternity leave for doctors

This page explains your rights to paternity leave.

Location: UK
Audience: All doctors
Updated: Wednesday 1 May 2024
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Employees who are new fathers or partners of a birth mother or primary adopter are entitled to two weeks paternity leave after birth or adoption.

To qualify you must expect to have responsibility for the child's upbringing and be the father, co-adopter, or the mother or adopter’s spouse, civil partner or partner who lives with them in an enduring relationship. This includes same-sex spouses and partners.

​In addition, you must have worked continuously for the same employer for 26 weeks ending with the 15th week before the baby is due and continue in the same employment up to the date of birth. Or in the case of adoption have at least 26 weeks’ service by the week the adoption match happens.


When leave starts and ends

Leave can start:

  • on the date of the baby's birth or the adoption (whether this is earlier or later than expected);
  • on a date falling after the birthdate or adoption placement, which is notified to the employer
  • or on a chosen date notified to the employer which falls after the first day of the expected week of childbirth or adoption placement.

You must tell your employer that you intend to take paternity leave by the end of the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth, or if this is not possible, as soon as is reasonably practicable. You should give your employer a completed form SC3.

If you are adopting a child, you need to use form SC4 to tell your employer within 7 days of being notified of the adoption placement, and 28 days before you want paternity pay to begin.


Pay and other terms and conditions

The rate of statutory paternity pay is the same as the standard rate of statutory maternity pay or statutory adoption pay.

Your contract of employment continues throughout paternity leave. You are entitled to benefit from all your normal terms and conditions of employment, except from terms relating to wages or salary as you will receive paternity pay instead. You continue to accrue annual leave while on paternity leave. Pensions contributions continue too.

At the end of paternity leave, you are guaranteed the right to return to the same job and the same terms and conditions of employment. You are protected against any detriment from your employer because you took paternity leave or sought to take it.


Enhanced pay under NHS terms and conditions

For hospital doctors employed under national terms and conditions of service and other doctors who have contracts of employment which make reference to national terms and conditions of service*, there is an entitlement to two weeks’ paternity leave on full pay (less any statutory paternity pay received). To be eligible, you must have 12 months’ service with one or more NHS employers at the beginning of the week in which the baby is due.

*Temporary Appendix VI(vi) of the Terms and Conditions of Service NHS Medical and Dental Staff (England) 2002; Schedule 14 of the Terms and Conditions for NHS Doctors and Dentists in Training (England) 2016; Schedule 29 for consultants employed under the new Consultant Terms and Conditions of Service; Schedule 26 of the Terms and Conditions of Service – Specialty Doctor (England) April 2008 and Schedule 27 of the Terms and Conditions – Associate Specialist (England) April 2008 'Balancing Work and Personal Life', contain guidance on paternity leave.


Time off for ante-natal and adoption appointments

Expectant fathers or partners are entitled, as a statutory minimum, to unpaid time off to attend up to two ante-natal or adoption appointments. They are entitled to 6.5 hours per appointment although an employer could agree to provide more.

Check your contract and with your employer as you may be entitled to more. For example, the consultants contract provides reasonable paid time off to attend ante-natal appointments and it provides employees who are being assessed for adoption the right to reasonable time off for essential meetings.


Shared parental leave

If you have qualified for statutory paternity leave and pay you are likely to also be eligible for shared parental leave if your partner is in paid work and qualifies for maternity or adoption entitlements.

Prior to the introduction of Shared Parental Leave in 2015, the Additional Paternity Leave Regulations 2010 allowed some sharing (up to 26 weeks) of maternity or adoption leave. Some NHS contracts may still refer to Additional Paternity Leave and Pay even though the new rights to SPL and statutory Shared Parental Pay have superseded it.


Additional statutory paternity pay

There may be an entitlement to additional statutory paternity pay during the mother's SMP, MA or adoption pay period if the employee:

  • takes additional paternity leave
  • is not working for the purposes of caring for the child during the mother's SMP, MA or statutory adoption pay period

The employee must be an employed earner.

If you apply for, but do not quality for, additional statutory paternity pay your employer must provide you with a form ASPP1 explaining the reasons why.

Additional statutory paternity pay is only payable to you during the period of your partner's 39 week SMP, MA or statutory adoption pay period. It is paid at the same rate payable during the ordinary paternity leave period.


Unpaid additional paternity leave

Employees will have the right to take unpaid additional statutory paternity leave if they meet the criteria for leave but not for pay.