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Am I entitled to Statutory Paternity Pay when adopting?

You are entitled to paid ordinary paternity leave (up to two weeks) if you are an employee, and:

  • you have been continuously employed by your current employer for 26 weeks or more by the end of the qualifying week (for adopting parents seeking paternity leave and pay this is the week beginning with the Sunday that you and your partner receive notification of having been matched with the child and ends on the following Saturday); and
  • you are married to, the civil partner of, or the partner of, the child’s adopter or the other person adopting the child along with yourself; and
  • you have, or expect to have, the main responsibility, along with the other adopter, for the upbringing of the child; and
  • your gross earnings have been at or above the Lower Earnings Limit on average per week in the eight weeks up to the end of the qualifying week.

Remember that in all of these cases, your partner is defined as a person of the same sex or different sex, who you live with, along with the child, in ‘an enduring family relationship’.

Also, for children born on or after 3 April 2011, a father (with the mother’s agreement) can take additional paternity leave (APL). Specifically, under the Additional Paternity Leave Regulations 2010, mothers will have the option to transfer all or part (a minimum of two weeks and maximum of 26 weeks) of their maternity leave to fathers.

This leave cannot be taken before the baby is 20 weeks old. Any of the mother's Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) entitlement that she hasn't used can also be transferred to the father on APL.

However, although the statutory scheme is not generous, where an employer offers enhanced maternity pay to mothers, someone taking additional paternity leave would be being discriminated against if s/he was not paid the same higher rate by his or her employer.