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Adoption leave and pay

Qualifying employees who have been matched with a child may take up to 52 weeks adoption leave, and may be entitled to 39 weeks of statutory adoption pay. If a couple jointly adopt a child, one may take adoption leave and the other parent may be able to take paternity leave or shared parental leave.

Key points

  • The main adopter will be able to take paid time off for up to five adoption appointments. The secondary adopter will be entitled to take unpaid time off for up to two appointments.
  • Adoption leave is a "day one" right there is no qualifying period.
  • Statutory Adoption Pay - the first six weeks will be paid at 90% of the employee's normal earnings.
  • Some surrogate parents will become eligible for adoption leave. 

Adoption leave may be taken:

  • When a child starts living with the employee or up to 14 days before the placement date (UK adoptions).
  • When an employee has been matched with a child by a UK adoption agency.
  • When the child arrives in the UK or within 28 days (overseas adoption).

The partner of an individual who adopts, or the secondary adopter if a couple are adopting jointly may be entitled to paternity leave and pay or shared parental leave (further information is available from pdf icon Shared Parental Leave: a good practice guide for employers and employees [538kb]).

Employees must give their employer documentary proof to show that they have the right to paid Statutory Adoption Leave. This is usually a matching certificate from the adoption agency. The adoption agency must be recognised in the UK.

Statutory adoption leave can start either:

  • from the date the child starts living with the employee

  • up to 14 days before the date the child is expected to start living with the employee.

Employees should tell the employer within seven days of being told that they have been matched with a child, if this is not possible they must tell the employer as soon as possible.

Employees who request or take adoption leave are protected against suffering a detriment or unfair dismissal. They have a right to return to the same job after 26 weeks adoption leave and after 52 weeks a suitable alternative job must be found.

Statutory Adoption Pay

Statutory adoption pay (SAP) will be payable if a worker has:

  • been working continuously for one company for at least 26 weeks by the week they were matched with a child
  • an average weekly earnings at least equal to the lower earnings limit for National Insurance contributions.

SAP is payable for 39 weeks. For the first six weeks it is paid at 90 percent of the average weekly earnings. The following 33 weeks will be paid at the SMP rate or 90 per cent of the average weekly earnings whichever is the lower.

Since April 2018 the rate for SAP has been £145.18 per week. The amount is reviewed every April. From 6th April 2019, the rate will increase to £148.68 per week.

For more information on qualification for SAP, go to GOV.UK - Maternity, Adoption and paternity calculator for employers.

Keep in touch day

Both parties should agree when and how the employer will keep in contact, this may be via email, telephone contact etc. Employees should also agree with their employer if they will work the "keeping in touch" days, these can be used for training days, team events etc.

Up to ten keeping in touch days can be worked, and there is no provision for these days to be paid, this should be agreed between employee and employer. Statutory Adoption Pay may be paid or this may be off set against any contractual pay agreed.

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