Maternity support (paternity) leave and pay - Section 35

Medical staff helping baby

All employees are entitled to take maternity support (paternity) leave. The leave falls into two categories and applies to the father of the child (including adoptive fathers), the mother’s husband or partner (whether opposite or same sex), or nominated carers and is made up of: 

Type of Leave 
Amount of leave
Ordinary maternity support (paternity) leave
2 weeks leave to be taken within 8 weeks of the baby’s birth
Additional maternity support (paternity) leave (only for employees with babies born or children adopted before 5 April 2015)
2 to 26 weeks leave commencing from 20 weeks after the baby is born

Key points 

NHS occupational maternity support (paternity) leave 

  • All employees are entitled to two weeks of ordinary maternity support (paternity) leave which can be taken around the time of the birth or the placement of the child for adoption. 
  • In addition, employees with babies born or children adopted before 5 April 2015, may be entitled to take up to twenty six weeks of additional maternity support (paternity) leave if their partner has returned to work, the leave can be taken between 20 weeks and one year after the child is born or placed for adoption. 
    • To qualify for additional maternity support (paternity) leave the employee and their partner must meet the eligibility criteria.  
  • For employees with babies born or children adopted on or after 5 April 2015, additional maternity support (paternity) leave has effectively been replaced by shared parental leave

Pay during NHS occupational ordinary maternity support (paternity) leave

  • Employees are entitled to two weeks’ occupational ordinary maternity support (paternity) pay – to be taken around the time of the birth or the placement of the child for adoption.  
  • Eligibility will be 12 months’ continuous service with one or more NHS employer at the beginning of the week in which the baby is due. 
  • Employees who are not eligible for the two weeks of occupational maternity support (paternity) pay may still be entitled to statutory paternity pay subject to meeting the qualifying conditions.  

Further information:

The Terms and Conditions of Service handbook provides more detail.

If you are a member of staff and have a query, please contact your HR team or local trade union representative.

Employers should send queries to:


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