Self-employed paternity pay: what do dads get?

As a self-employed dad-to-be, can you expect to get any benefits or leave? Start planning today with our guide to UK self-employed paternity pay for the 2017-18 tax year.

Can self-employed dads get paternity pay (and leave)?

Only employees with an employment contract can get Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP) and leave. Currently, there is no self-employed equivalent. This guide is designed to help you plan around that, with ideas and ways of preparing your family’s affairs ready for your new baby’s birth and beyond.

Not sure of your employment status (i.e whether you’re an employee, contractor, self-employed, casual worker or something else)? Find out more about your employment status and rights with our up-to-date article, and read on here for what you can do as a self-employed dad-to-be.

Get a plan in place

Sadly, there’s no equivalent to SPP for self-employed fathers. This may change (we hope it does), but for now the best thing you can do is start getting a plan in place for how you’ll manage family affairs, before the baby arrives.

Statutory paternity leave and pay is generally designed to kick in on or right around your baby’s day of delivery, covering you and your family for the time you’d need to spend away from work. It makes sense for your plan to focus on these days and weeks in particular. Once you’re clear on the due date and fortnight or so afterwards, think about how you’ll manage things if the baby arrives early, or a little (or a lot) later than expected.

Finally, bear in mind those all-important scan dates and pre-natal appointments. If you’re not sure, ask your partner for a list of what’s coming up. You may not decide to be at all of them, but being self-employed means you’ll need to factor in the time for any you do attend.

Taking time off

When you’re self-employed, the amount of paternity leave you take is completely up to you. You’ll want to base this decision on what you can afford, but also on what works for you, your partner and any other children you may have. Money is very important, but every pregnancy, birth and baby is different, so have a plan to refer to but stay flexible.

Things to think about:

  • How much time can you afford to take off?
  • How will you plan around procedures such as a caesarean, if needed? Remember, these will mean your partner will need extra support and time from you.
  • Have you factored in pre-natal appointments and scans, as well as any false alarms for the beginnings of labour?
  • What will your partner’s maternity pay and leave look like?
  • If you have any other young children, who will be looking after them at the birth and in the weeks after?

Finally, get a stash of change ready for the hospital parking meter, or do a drive-by and scout out any text-to-pay facilities (these are really handy) or, best of all, free parking in roads nearby.

Start saving early on

Dad.info is a great resource for dads and dads-to-be. In their guidance for self-employed fathers, they recommend saving about 5% of your monthly income, for each week you want to take off to be with your partner and new baby, or look after other aspects of family life. So if you find out about the pregnancy at the start of month two, you’ll have another seven months to save.

Whether this is manageable and realistic for you is another question. But planning around the birth with seven months to go is much better than seven weeks (or days) before the due date. But if you have left it until the last minute, don’t panic. Focus on your partner, the baby and those first couple of weeks, and rope in as much support from your team, family, friends and even clients, as you can.

Know your child and family benefits

First, check through our UK self-employed benefits article, recently refreshed for the current tax year. It runs through the key benefits for self-employed people, what you should know and how to go about claiming.

From there, take a look at gov.uk’s list of family benefits and child-specific benefits. They’re refreshed regularly, and are the best source for up-to-date information, from free school meal applications to Child Benefit.

Are you paying yourself through PAYE?

If so, and you’re paying Class 1 National Insurance (NI) contributions, you may be entitled to paternity leave and SPP. Your local Jobcentre Plus will be able to help you work this out, or you can take advice from the person who’s responsible for your legal and people or human resources (HR) affairs in your business, if you have one.

More help and resources

We’ve already mentioned Dad.info, and there are lots more on and offline resources available. Here are just a few:

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