Eligible Dorset Council Schools employees can take up to two weeks paid Maternity/Adoption/Paternity leave, depending on the circumstances and length of service, close to the time of the birth or placement of the child in order to support the mother or the main adopter. This is also known as ordinary paternity leave. (Ordinary paternity leave is the statutory definition).

Often, it is the baby's father or the partner of the mother or main adopter who will take this leave. The partner may be of the same or opposite sex. However, if the father or partner is not taking maternity/adoption support leave and you have been asked to provide support, you may also be eligible.

This policy also applies to those who are 'fostering to adopt' (dual approved prospective adopters) and the intended parents in a surrogacy arrangement where they are eligible for and intend to apply for a Parental Order (or where they have already obtained such an order) making them the legal parents of the child that they are having with the help of a surrogate mother. These parents are referred to as 'dual approved prospective adopters' and ''Parental Order parents' respectively in this document. 

The entitlement is to only one period of leave and pay regardless of how many children are born or adopted. You must take your leave in one go.


If you're the father/partner

You will be entitled to either one or two week's paid paternity leave depending on your length of continuous service.

All employees who are taking time off to look after the child AND are:

  • the father or
  • the spouse or partner of the mother or main adopter

are able to take one week's paid maternity/adoption/paternity support leave, regardless of length of service.

You are entitled to take a further week's paid leave if you have 26 weeks continuous service with the school/local authority by:

  • the end of the 'qualifying week' (which is the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth) OR
  • the week that the adopter is matched with a child

A week is the same amount of days that you normally work in a week - for example, a week is 2 days if you only work on Mondays and Tuesdays.

If you are not the father/partner but are the nominated support

If you're not the father or partner, but have been nominated by the mother/adopter to help with the care of the child and to provide primary support to him/her at or around the time of the birth/placement, then you are entitled to 5 days paid maternity/adoption support leave, regardless of your length of service.

The school will ask you to provide written confirmation from the mother/main adopter that they have nominated you as their primary support and include a copy of the expectant mother's form Mat.B1 (certificate of expected confinement).

Making arrangements: employee task list

It is your responsibility to inform the school of your eligibility and of the dates that you want to take maternity/adoption/paternity support leave. This section explains when and how you need to provide this information.

The school should ensure any letters, emails or notifications from their employee are copied or forwarded on your HR Payroll Support team, so that HR and pay records are updated. 

Notification requirements

In the case of childbirth

Before the end of the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth you must notify in writing of:

  • the expected date of childbirth 
  • the length of leave you wish to take (one or two weeks leave)
  • the date on which you wish your leave to begin. (It doesn't have to be a precise date, it could be the day of the birth or 1 week after the birth, for example but it must end within 56 days of the birth.

You must give 28 days' notice if you want to change your start date.

In the case of adoption

No more than 7 days after the adopter has been notified of their match with a child, you must notify the school in writing of:

  • the date the adopter was notified of being matched with a child*
  • the date the child is expected to be placed
  • the length of leave you wish to take (one or two weeks leave)
  • the date on which you wish to commence your leave (this may be the date of the placement or an agreed number of days after but must end within 56 days of the date of placement.

You must give 28 days' notice if you want to change your start date.

*In the case of dual approved prospective adopters, notified of a match means that you have been notified by the Local Authority that a child will be placed with you in accordance with section 22C of the Children Act 1989 (i.e., when the child joins the family, initially for fostering). If it is not possible to give notice in this timescale then you must give notice as soon as is reasonably practicable.

In the case of either childbirth or adoption

You should also confirm the following:

  • you are the father of the child or 
  • you are the partner of the child's mother or adopter or
  • you have been nominated by the mother/adopter 


  • you are taking leave to care for the child and/or to support the child's mother/adopter

When the child is born/placed

You should notify the school in writing of the date of birth or placement.

Notification of changes

If you change your mind, you must give the school at least 28 days' notice of the dates before you can take your leave.

When can maternity/adoption/paternity support leave be taken?

You can only start leave once the child is born or placed. 

Whether you are taking one or two weeks leave (depending on entitlement), you must take the entire period in one single block. Leave can start on any day of the week. All leave must be taken by the 56th day after the date of birth/placement.

If you specify the date of birth as the day on which you wish to start your leave, and you are at work on that day, your leave will begin on the next day.

Pay during maternity/adoption/paternity support leave

If you're the father/partner

You will receive full contractual pay during your paternity support leave. This will consist of any Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP) that you are entitled to which is then topped up an amount that is equivalent to your normal pay.

To ensure you receive full pay during your leave, which includes any SPP that you are entitled, it is important that you:

Complete the SC3 form on the website if you become a birth parent and want to take statutory paternity pay and leave to support the mother.


If you adopt a baby and want to claim SPP and leave to support the main adopter use the SC4 form on the website.

You will need to print the relevant form and return this to your HR and Payroll support team or to your school to forward.

If you are not the father/partner but are the nominated support

You will receive the full contractual pay during your maternity/adoption support leave.

Further guidance

Antenatal support

The father, partner or spouse of the mother is entitled to take time off work to accompany the mother to her antenatal appointments. The entitlement is for unpaid time off to attend up to two antenatal appointments of up to 6 and a half hours per appointment.

This entitlement also applies to both of the Parental Order Parents. 

Adoption appointments

The spouse or partner of the main adopter is entitled to unpaid time off work to attend up to two adoption appointments of up to 6 and a half hours per appointment.

Returning to work following maternity/adoption/paternity support leave

You don't need to do anything if you're returning on the expected date. In the event that you are unable to return on your expected date, for whatever reason, you must contact the school immediately.

Other family leave

Sharing maternity/adoption leave 

If you are the father, partner or joint adopter, you may be able to use shared parental leave to take more time off work in the first year to care for your child. This can only happen if your partner agrees to bring their maternity or adoption leave and pay to an end.

Parental leave, flexible working and time off for dependents

Parental leave is available if you have more than one year's continuous service.

You may wish to consider requesting flexible working arrangements. If you want to change your working arrangements on an ongoing basis then please view the flexible working guidance to find out more and help you consider your options.

Unpaid time off for dependents is available for short term emergency care cover. Read more information about time off for dependents.

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