Can an employee take paternity leave before the child is born or placed for adoption?

No, the earliest day on which a period of paternity leave can begin is the date on which the child is born or placed for adoption (or the date the child entered Great Britain if the adoption is from abroad).

In a birth situation, paternity leave must be taken in the period beginning on the date the child is born and ending either 56 days later or 56 days after the first day of the expected week of childbirth, if the child was born earlier than that date. In the case of an adoption within the UK, paternity leave must be taken during the period of 56 days beginning with the date on which the child is placed with the adopter. If the child was adopted from overseas, paternity leave must be taken within 56 days of the child's entry into Great Britain.