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I'd like to take paternity leave to adopt. What notice do I need to give?

If you wish to take ordinary paternity leave to adopt (up to two weeks), you must give your employer notice that specifies:

  • the date that you and/or your partner were notified that a child had been matched with you for adoption; and
  • the date that you are expecting the child to be placed with you and/ or your partner; and
  • the date that you want your paternity leave period to begin.

You must give this notice within seven days of the adopter being notified of having been matched with a child. If this is not reasonably practicable, then you must give notice as soon as is reasonably practicable.

If you qualify for paternity leave your employer can ask you to complete a self-certificate form (SC4 Becoming an Adoptive Parent) that confirms you are entitled to take paternity leave. You only have to give this certificate to your employer if they ask you to, and if you are entitled to paternity pay you will need to complete the self certificate form in order to claim it. However, you only need to submit the certificate once to qualify for both leave and pay.

It is advisable that you make a copy of the certificate once you have completed it, so that both you and your employer are clear of the dates and information you have agreed on.

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.