Adoption Leave: An Employer's Guide

By April Harrington.
25 Nov 2021

When a member of staff is having a child, they're entitled to some time away from work. The same applies when they’re adopting.

They’re entitled to some time off work to attend adoption appointments. They may also receive pay for adoption leave, paternity leave or shared parental leave and pay after the adoption.

This piece acts as a guide for employers. In it, we’ll explore the following:

  • Employee rights
  • Eligibility
  • Pay entitlement

Adoption Leave Meaning

What is it?

It’s the time an employee takes off work when they’ve matched with a child. It also applies when a staff member is having a child via surrogate.

Adoption leave provides your employees with an opportunity to bond with and care for their new child (or children). It’s the equivalent of maternity leave for an adopted child.

During this period, they can take up to 52 weeks of statutory adoption leave, They can get adoption leave pay (39 weeks of statutory adoption pay).

The first half (first 26 weeks) is also known as ‘ordinary adoption leave’. The second half (last 26 weeks) is ‘additional adoption leave’.


Adoption leave entitlement in the UK

Employees can decide how much of this leave period they’d like to take off. There is no compulsory adoption leave period.

Many people look at it like maternity leave for adoption – it protects the child’s best interest, to welcome them into their new family. However, there is a minimum period the mother must take off work following the birth of their child.

It isn’t possible for both parents to take adoption leave. But one person in the couple take leave while the other gets paternity leave and pay instead.

They can also get an enhanced adoption leave if your company scheme allows for it. If this is the case, it’s important to ensure you have clear and up-to-date policies in place that address concerns relating to employee

Use an adoption leave policy template

If you’re unsure where to begin, consider using a template. In it, you should include elements pertaining to the:

  • Duration of adoption leave.
  • The conditions for eligibility.
  • The time they get off for appointments.
  • Entitlements they’re eligible to receive.
  • The amount they’ll receive as adoption pay.
  • Their rights during the adoption period.
  • Return to work procedure after the leave period.

You can contact our employment law experts for information on how to create the full policy, as it can be complex.

With regards to pay, employees on this type of leave may receive statutory adoption pay (SAP). It amounts to:

  • 90% of their gross average weekly earnings for the first six weeks.
  • £151.97 a week or 90% of their gross average weekly earnings for the next 33 weeks.

Entitlement rules may differ depending on the type of employment, such as:

  • Agency workers
  • Educational workers
  • Directors


Adoption leave eligibility

To be eligible for statutory adoption leave entitlement in the UK, staff members will need to:

  • Be a contracted employee.
  • Provide proof of adoption or surrogacy (only if requested).
  • Give you the correct notice period (within 7 days of matching with a child).

To be eligible for statutory adoption pay entitlement in the UK, employees must:

  • Have been with your company continuously for at least 26 weeks by the week of matching with a child.
  • Provide the correct notice and proof of adoption or surrogacy.
  • Earn at least £120 a week on average (before taxes) in an eight-week period known as the ‘relevant period’.


Claiming for adoption leave and pay

To claim statutory adoption leave, they must inform you within 7 days of matching with a child. Information includes:

  • How much time they want off work.
  • When they’d like to begin the period of absence.
  • The expected date of the child’s placement.

Remember, employees must inform you of their intention to take adoption leave.

When they claim statutory adoption pay, employees need to do so at least 28 days ahead of taking time off. 

While not required, you can ask for this information in writing for documentation purposes.

If you receive the request on time, you must confirm within 28 days the start and end day for their leave. You also need to let them know how much SAP they’ll get and for how long.

By law, the employee doesn’t need to inform you exactly when they will return to work after the adoption leave. However, you can request them to do so to help with day to day business operations.


Expert support

Contact Croner today for more information on adoption leave entitlements or other HR issues. Speak to an expert on 01455 858 132.

About the Author

April Harrington.

An experienced Senior Employment Law Consultant, who has worked for the group for over 9 years. April specialises in discrimination legislation. April has an extensive background in training, as well as recruitment and hospitality.