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Adoption Leave/Pay

An employee who adopts a child has the right to take “ordinary” adoption leave and “additional” adoption leave. This entitlement is similar to the entitlements for maternity leave. The employee has a choice of date for commencement of the “ordinary” adoption leave period, either:-

  1. the date on which the child is “placed” with the employee, or
  2. pre-determined date which has been notified to the employer and is no earlier than 14 days before the date.

It is vital to note that adoption leave rights do NOT apply where a step-parent or foster carer adopts a child for whom they have already been caring.

The “ordinary” adoption leave period is for 26 weeks. This can be followed by further leave of another 26 weeks; the “additional” leave period. Employment rights are preserved in the “ordinary leave” period in practically all respects other than pay. During the “additional leave” period the rights are diminished, but still entitle the employee to receive (or give) contractual notice, rights to redundancy pay (when this arises) and the implied term of trust and confidence.

There is no qualifying period of employment that an employee must work before being entitled to take adoption leave. The situation on adoption leave pay is different. Employees have to have been employed for at least 26 weeks by a set day and have earned over a set figure. The amount payable in Statutory Adoption Leave Pay is calculated in the same way as Maternity Pay, and is subject to the same annual review. Employers may choose to pay more than the statutory entitlement, but cannot pay a lower rate. For the first 6 weeks the rate of pay is 90% of the person's normal average weekly, followed by 33 weeks at the standard rate. The "standard" rate of Statutory Adoption Pay is £140.98 (or 90% of average weekly earnings if this is lower than the usual set rate). The standard rate was previously £139.58 from April 2015 to April 2017. Statutory Adoption Pay is payable for 39 weeks (the same period as Statutory Maternity Pay).

If you are entitled adoption leave you will also be entitled to get paid time off work to attend up to 5 adoption appointments after you have been matched with a child for adoption.

As a statutory right that may be exercised by any employee who adopts a child, irrespective of length of service, employers should have an appropriate adoption leave policy. 


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