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The Employer’s Guide to Adoption Leave

5 August 2019 7 min read

new parents on adoption leave

Adoption leave changes lives.

There are more than 70,000 children in care in the UK. Every single one of these children doubtlessly dreams of being part of a loving family. Adoption makes these dreams come true. As an employer, you’re in a great position to help your employees help these children. With an adoption leave policy, you can give them the freedom and the support they need to make a truly life-changing decision.

Adoption leaves and pay counts as a statutory right. That means that any employee that requests it is legally entitled to receive it.

In this post, we’ll explain your legal responsibilities when it comes to adoption leave and pays. We’ll then share a few tips for creating an adoption leave policy that works for everyone.

Adoption Leave and UK Law

Employers can be eligible for statutory adoption leave and statutory adoption pay when they take time off to adopt a child. They may also be entitled when they have a child through a surrogacy arrangement.

All employment rights are protected for the duration of the statutory adoption leave. This includes the employee’s right to pay rises, holiday accruement, and their right to return to work.

So what makes an employee eligible for adoption leave and adoption pay?

Adoption Leave Eligibility Check

So an employee has requested adoption leave. Are they eligible? They are if they meet certain requirements. They must:

  • Be an employee and not a worker. Find out more about the difference here.
  • Give you the correct notice. Specifically, they have to tell you within seven days of being matched with their adopted or surrogate child. They also have to let you know how much leave they want when they want their leave to start, and the date the child will be placed with them.
  • Provide proof of their adoption or surrogacy. We’ll explain what counts as proof in more detail below.

You can ask for all of this in writing, for your records. And once you’ve assessed the employee’s eligibility, you must confirm their adoption leave to start and end dates within 28 days.

Adoption Pay Eligibility Check

An employee is eligible for adoption pay if they:

  • Have been in your employment for at least 26 weeks by the week they were matched with a child.
  • Earn on average at least £118 a week, before tax.
  • Give the correct notice. Specifically, they must give you at least 28 days’ notice that they want to stop work to adopt a child.
  • Provide proof of the adoption or surrogacy. Again, we’ll explain what counts as proof in more detail below.

Once you’ve assessed the employee’s eligibility, you must confirm within 28 days how much statutory adoption pay they’ll receive. You’ll also have to confirm when the payments will start and stop.

You might find that the employee is not eligible to receive adoption pay. In this case, you’ll have to provide the employee with form SAP1 within seven days, to explain why. You can download that from here.

Proof of Adoption

If an employee requests adoption leave or adoption pay, you can ask for proof of their adoption or surrogacy arrangement. Employees only have to provide proof if they ask for it.

For adoption, the proof needs to show the employee’s name and address, and that of the adoption agency. It needs to state the match date and the date of the placement. Examples of proof can include matching certificates and letters from adoption agencies.

For overseas adoptions, you may need a bit more proof. You might need to see the relevant UK authority’s “official notification” that confirms the employee’s allowed to adopt. You may also need confirmation of the date the child arrived in the UK. A plane ticket will do here.

Surrogacy Arrangements – Eligibility and Proof

Employees entering a surrogacy arrangement need to tell you the baby’s due date, and when they want to start their leave, at least 15 weeks before the expected week of birth. Again, you can ask for this in writing, for your records.

Anyone who wants to become the legal parent of a child, whether through adoption or surrogacy, must sign a parental order.

You can request a written statement to confirm that the employees applied for a parental order in the six months following the child’s birth. This is known as a statutory declaration, and the employee must sign it in the presence of a legal professional.

Adoption Leave – What Are Employees Entitled To?

Statutory adoption leave is 52 weeks. This includes 26 weeks of Ordinary Adoption Leave and 26 weeks of Additional Adoption Leave.

One way that adoption leave differs from parental leave is that it cannot be shared. Many couples choose to take shared parental leave, but only one person in a couple can ever take adoption leave. If both parents want to take time off to look after an adopted child, the government suggests that the other partner could apply for an alternative type of leave, such as paternity leave.

Employees on adoption leave may also take paid time off to attend up to five adoption appointments.

Adoption leave can start up to 14 days before the date the child starts living with their new parents. If it’s an overseas adoption, the leave can start either when the child arrives in the UK, or within 28 days of their arrival date. And if it’s a surrogacy arrangement, the leave can start either on the day the child’s born, or the day after.

Adoption can be a long and complicated process. Sometimes the date of placement can change. If employees want to change their adoption leave dates, they must tell you within 28 days. And if they want to change their return to work date, they have to give you at least eight weeks’ notice.

Adoption Pay – What Are Employees Entitled To?

Employees can receive statutory adoption pay for up to 39 weeks. For the first six weeks, they get 90% of their weekly earnings. For the following 33 weeks, they get £148.68, or 90% of their average weekly earnings – whichever is lower.

You pay adoption pay in the same way as standard pay – that is, monthly, or weekly. It’s also eligible for tax and National Insurance deductions.

Of course, you’re free to pay employees more adoption pay if you want. But you can’t pay them any less than the statutory amount!

Employees start to receive their adoption pay once they start to take their adoption leave.

Adoption Leave Made Easy with e-days Custom Absence Types

With the e-days absence management system, employers can create custom absence types. So booking adoption leave is a straightforward process for employees that can be completed in a matter of minutes. There’s no fuss and no need for any paperwork or long chains of emails.

And once an employee’s booked their leave, everyone can see how their absence affects the rest of the business. This makes it easier for managers to cover shifts to guarantee that there is no loss to productivity.

Start making absence matter with an intelligent, centralized solution that helps growing organizations to thrive.

See Edays in action >


Harry Customer Success Manager at edays
August 5, 2019

Harry is Head of Customer Success here at edays, helping organisations to get the very best out of their edays system. His experience in SaaS and HR brings valuable insight into how organisations can better manage their people, processes and productivity.