Adoption Leave

Couple sitting with a child that they have adopted

When a couple are adopting, in respect of leave and pay entitlements, only one person must be assigned as the ‘primary’ adopter.

Adoption Leave and pay is available only to employees who adopt through an adoption agency. Please note that employees who adopt a child on a private basis are not eligible for adoption leave or pay, nor are stepparents who adopt their stepchildren.

What does the employee need to do?

The employee must tell their employer how much leave they want to take, the start date of leave and the date of when the child is to be placed with them. An employer must ask the employee to put this in writing as well as proof of the adoption.

What is the statutory adoption leave?

An employee who adopts is entitled up to 52 weeks statutory adoption leave. The other parent who is adopting (if applicable) may take statutory paternity leave and both adopters may be eligible to opt into the shared parental leave scheme if the qualifying conditions are met.
The primary adopter needs to inform their employer if they wish to opt into the shared parental leave scheme, in the same way as an employee would for maternity leave. If an employee is adopting with a second parent, then they are entitled to statutory adoption leave.

Adoption leave and pay entitlements

Adoption leave can begin on the date a child is placed with the adopter (employee) or within 14 days before the date on which the child is due to be placed. During adoption leave, an employee is entitled to all terms and conditions of employment except terms relating to pay.

The first six weeks of statutory adoption leave is paid at 90% of the employee’s normal weekly earnings with the following 33 weeks being paid at the lower rate of the prescribed statutory rate or 90% of the employee’s normal weekly earnings.

An employee cannot claim multiple adoption pay entitlements if they adopt more than one child as part of the same adoption arrangement.

Employees who are approved under the ‘fostering for adoption’ scheme are also eligible for adoption leave and pay entitlements. Adoption Leave in these circumstances can begin once the child is placed with the foster parent/s who are then expected to adopt the child.

An employee (the primary adopter) is entitled to take paid time off work for up to five adoption appointments. If there is a second adoptive parent, they can take time off for two appointments, but these will be unpaid.

It is good practice to ensure that your adoption rights are the same as your maternity packages in terms of leave and pay.

If you would like further guidance on adoption rights, please contact one of our experts on 01483 362732 or