Adoption Leave: An Employer's Guide

Carol Smith

Carol Smith


14 Aug 2019


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 or having one via surrogacy.

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 this type of leave, employees’ entitlements and the requirements needed to be eligible for adoption leave and pay entitlement.


What is it?

It’s the time an employee takes off work when they’ve matched with a child.

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 and could get adoption leave pay (39 weeks of statutory adoption pay).

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


Adoption leave entitlement in the UK

Employees can decide how much of this leave period they’d like to take off. However, adoption leave legislation requires new parents to take compulsory adoption leave.

This is the first two weeks following the placement of a child. This period begins:

  • For UK adoptions, on the day of the child’s placement with the employee (or 14 days before placement date).
  • For overseas adoptions, when the child arrives in the UK or within 28 days of their arrival.
  • For surrogacy arrangements, when the child is born or the day after.
  • When the employee matches with a child and before the estimated placement date by a UK adoption agency.

While it isn’t possible for both parents to take adoption leave, one person in the couple can 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 absences.

If you’re unsure where to begin, consider using an adoption leave policy 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.
  • £148.68 a week or 90% of their gross average weekly earnings for the next 33 weeks.

It’s worth noting, entitlement rules may differ depending on the type of employment.

For example, those surrounding the adoption entitlement for agency workers, educational workers and directors are different from those that apply to your contracted staff.


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 £118 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.

For statutory adoption pay, employees must inform you at least 28 days before the time they’d like to take 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, how much SAP they’ll get and for how long.


Expert support

Contact Croner today for more information on adoption leave entitlements or other HR issues. Speak to an expert on 0808 145 3380.

About the Author

Carol Smith

Carol joined Croner in 2001 as an Employment Consultant advising a wide range of clients on all aspects of Employment Law and HR practice. She demonstrates particular expertise in complex disciplinary, grievance matters and reorganisation / redundancy.


Carol Smith

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