If an employee becomes an adoptive parent, they may be eligible for different types of leave and pay to look after the new addition to their family.
Couple vs individual
Where one person is adopting a child, that person is the adopter and can take Statutory Adoption Leave.
If a couple jointly adopts a child, one will be the adopter and may qualify for Statutory Adoption Leave and receive Statutory Adoption Pay. The other person involved will be the secondary adopter and may be able to take paternity leave and receive Statutory Paternity Pay.
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Statutory Adoption Leave
Eligible employees may take 52 weeks of Statutory Adoption Leave – 26 weeks of Ordinary Adoption Leave and 26 weeks of Additional Adoption Leave. Not everyone who adopts will be eligible. For example, employees who are adopting a family member or a stepchild, who become a special guardian or are undertaking a private adoption do not have the right to adoption leave.
The employee must notify you within seven days of being matched with a child (or if this is not possible, the employee must inform you of the match as soon as possible). They need to tell you of their intention to take leave, detailing the date that the child will be placed with them and the date they will commence leave. You have 28 days to confirm when their leave will end. The employee must give you eight weeks’ notice if they wish to change their return to work date.
If you request it, the employee must give your proof of the adoption. This will typically take the form of a matching certificate from a UK recognised adoption agency.
In cases of UK adoptions, adoption leave can begin up to 14 days from when they start living with the employee. If the employee is adopting a child from overseas, adoption leave can commence when the child arrives in the UK or within 28 days of their arrival. If the date of placement or the child’s arrival in the country changes, the employee must give you 28 days’ notice.
They may work up to 10 days during Statutory Adoption Leave, which will not have the effect of bringing their leave to an end.
While on leave, their employment rights continue as before. If the employee returns after 26 weeks of leave, they will have the right to their previous job. If they return after 26 weeks or at the end of the 52 weeks of leave, they must be offered a suitable alternative job.
They also have certain legal protections. They cannot be put at a disadvantage or dismissed for taking or seeking to take adoption leave.
Statutory Adoption Pay
Statutory Adoption Pay is paid for up to 39 weeks. At present, an eligible employee is paid 90% of their average weekly earnings for the first six weeks. For the subsequent 33 weeks, they are paid 90% of their average weekly earnings or £145.28 a week (whichever is lower).
For pay purposes, the employee must provide evidence of the adoption. This proof must demonstrate the details of the adoption agency, the match date and the date of placement. In the event of overseas adoptions, it must also include official notification confirming they can adopt and the date that the child arrived in the UK.
Eligible employees may be entitled to take one or two weeks of paternity leave within 56 days of the child’s placement for adoption. If they fulfil the required conditions, they may also be entitled to Statutory Paternity Pay. At present, the rate of pay is £139.58 a week or 90% of the employee’s average earnings (whichever is lower).
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Time off for antenatal appointments
The main adopter can take paid time off for up to five adoption appointments.
The secondary adopter has the right to take time off for up to two appointments, however the employer has no obligation to pay for this time off.
Shared Parental Leave
There is also the option of Shared Parental Leave, which gives new parents more flexible options when deciding who will take time off to care for the baby. If the adopter ends their adoption leave early, they may be able to share up to 50 weeks with the secondary adopter. They may have the right to up to 37 weeks of Statutory Shared Parental Pay.