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Durham University

Human Resources & Organisational Development

Paternity Leave - Guidelines for Employees

Following the birth of a child eligible employees can take paid leave to care for the child or support the mother in the form of paternity leave.

Shared parental leave may also be relevant to employees taking paternity leave and there is a separate policy on this.


In order to qualify for Statutory Paternity Leave (SPL) you must:

  • have or expect to have responsibility for the child's upbringing;
  • be the biological father of the child or the mother's husband or partner (a partner, in this case, is someone who lives with the mother of the baby in an enduring family relationship but is not an immediate relative. This may include a female partner in a same sex couple);
  • have worked continuously for the University for 26 weeks leading into the 15th week before the baby is due; and
  • be taking the time off to support the mother or care for the new baby.

Types and length of Paternity Leave

Statutory Paternity Leave

Eligible members of staff can choose to take either one week or two consecutive weeks' paternity leave (not odd days). You can choose to start your leave:

  • from the date of the child's birth (whether this is earlier or later than expected), or
  • from a chosen number of days or weeks after the date of the child's birth (whether this is earlier or later than expected), or
  • from a chosen date later than the first day of the week in which the baby is expected to be born.

Leave can start on any day of the week on or following the child's birth but must be completed:

  • within 56 days of the actual date of birth of the child, or
  • if the child is born early, within 56 days of the due date.

Only one period of leave is available irrespective of whether more than one child is born as the result of the same pregnancy.

University Paternity Leave

Members of staff with one year's service or more at the time the baby is due can benefit from the University Paternity scheme that offers up to 1 working week's paternity leave with full pay. Employees can take an additional week under the statutory provisions detailed above.

Please note staff can only take a maximum of two weeks paternity leave using statutory and/or university arrangements.


Adoption leave and pay is available to only one member of a couple, the other parent has the right to take paternity leave.

Who do I need to inform about my intention to take paternity leave?

You should discuss your intention to take paternity leave with your Head of Department or Section so that early consideration can be given to covering your post during your absence.

Arrangements should be agreed with your Head of Department by the 25th week of pregnancy - which is 15 weeks before the baby is due. You will need to complete a ‘Paternity Leave Form' setting out the following details:

  • The date the baby is due
  • The mother's full name and national insurance number
  • Whether you wish to take one or two weeks leave
  • The date you intend to start your paternity leave.

The Paternity Leave form is available in the supporting documents secrtion of the Paternity Leave Tookit. If your Head of Department agrees that you are eligible to take Paternity Leave, he/she should sign the Paternity Leave form and forward it to Payroll.