No 87 The Paternity and Adoption Leave (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2015

The purpose of these Regulations is to amend the Paternity and Adoption Leave Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2002 (“the 2002 Regulations”) to take account of the policy changes being brought forward in association with the Work and Families Act (Northern Ireland) 2015.


The Regulations remove the requirement that employees must be employed continuously by their employer for 26 weeks or more before being able to access the right to statutory adoption leave. This makes statutory adoption leave a 'day one' employment right.

They adjust the right to return to work following paternity or adoption leave to ensure that account is taken of situations where employees have accessed the new right to shared parental leave.

The Regulations further make adoption leave available to foster parents who are prospective adopters if they have been notified that a child is to be placed with them as part of a ‘fostering for adoption’ arrangement. They also confer the right to paternity leave on the spouses, civil partners and partners of prospective adopters in this situation.

The Regulations prevent paternity leave from being taken in respect of an adoption placement if such leave has already been taken at an earlier stage as part of a fostering for adoption process for the same child. They achieve the same end in relation to adoption leave, so that it too may not be taken on two occasions in respect of the same child. They also prevent paternity leave from being taken if a person has already taken paid time off to attend an adoption appointment in respect of the child (and is thus the adopter) or has already taken shared parental leave.

Finally, the Regulations protect employees who suffer a detriment or who are dismissed in relation to time off work for ante-natal or adoption appointments. The right to take time off for these appointments was introduced by the 2015 Act, which amended the Employment Rights (NI) Order 1996 to make relevant provisions.

Last updated: 26 March 2019