Guide

Paternity leave and pay

The start and duration of paternity leave - adoptions

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.

Choosing the start date of paternity leave - UK adoptions

Paternity leave (and pay) can begin any time from the date of the child's placement with the adopter but must be completed within 56 days of this date.

The employee can choose to begin paternity leave on one of the following:

  • The date on which the child is placed with the adopter, even if this is earlier or later than the expected date of placement. If the employee is at work on that date, their leave begins on the day after.
  • A predetermined date after the expected date of placement.
  • A date falling a specified number of days after the expected date of placement.

If the date of placement changes, the employee's chosen:

  • start date of paternity leave could fall before the date of placement or even after the 56-day limit
  • end date of paternity leave could fall after the 56-day limit

In these circumstances, the employee should:

  • discuss the situation with you as soon as possible
  • give the appropriate notice to change the start date

If you are unable to agree about the dates of paternity leave, contact the Labour Relations Agency (LRA) Helpline on Tel 028 9032 1442.

Choosing the start date of paternity leave - overseas adoptions

An employee adopting a child from overseas may choose to start their paternity leave:

  • from the date the child enters Northern Ireland
  • from a fixed date which is later than the date the child enters Northern Ireland

They must complete their leave within 56 days of the date the child enters Northern Ireland. They can start their leave on any day of the week.

Paternity leave is not meant to be used to cover the period employees spend travelling overseas to arrange the adoption or visit the child. However, you could allow the employee to take annual leave or unpaid leave for these purposes.

Changing the start date of paternity leave

If the employee wants to change the start date of their paternity leave, they must give you 28 days' notice of the change.

If they can't give the notice in time, they should tell you as soon as is reasonably practicable.

You can ask for this notification in writing.