If you are adopting a child or having a child through a surrogacy arrangement, you might be eligible for Statutory Adoption Leave, Statutory Adoption Pay, and Shared Parental Leave and Pay. 

We’ve compiled everything you need to know in this comprehensive guide.

Adoption Leave UK

Adoption rights have improved in the UK over recent years. Nowadays, those hoping to adopt can rest easy knowing they have similar rights to birth parents. They are entitled to take time off or receive paid leave when they adopt.

There are three options when adopting a child. You can take:

  • Statutory Adoption Leave
  • Statutory Adoption Pay
  • Shared Parental Leave and Pay

See a detailed explanation of each option below to decide which path is best for you.

Statutory Adoption Leave

If a couple adopts a child, only one of the two partners can take Statutory Adoption Leave (SAL). The other partner is eligible for paternity leave, in which they can take up to two weeks of leave.

Statutory Adoption Leave is similar to Statutory Maternity Leave in that it is made up of two parts: Ordinary Adoption Leave, making up the first 26 weeks, and Additional Adoption Leave, making up an optional extension of up to another 26 weeks.

Choosing SAL also makes you eligible for attending 5 adoption appointments. These can be taken after you’ve been matched with a child.

The dates for SAL change depending on where the child is before adoption. For example, when adopting a child who is already living in the UK, you can choose to commence leave up to 14 days prior to the date the child starts living with you.

On the other hand, for overseas adoption, leave can begin from the day the child arrives in the UK or up to 28 days after this date.

If it is a surrogate adoption, the adoption leave must start on the day of or the day after the birth.

It’s important to communicate any changes in dates to your employer as soon as possible. If the date of placement or the UK arrival date changes, you must give them at least 28 days’ notice. Additionally, your employer will need at least 8 weeks’ notice if you want to change your return to work date.

Statutory Adoption Pay

Statutory Adoption Pay equates to 90% of your average weekly earnings for the first 6 weeks. After that, you will receive £156.66 or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is lower) for the next 33 weeks.

As with a regular wage, Tax and National Insurance will be deducted from this amount.

Some companies have company adoption schemes in which you may be entitled to more money and leave. This completely depends on the company but it’s worth asking your employer if you’re unsure.

If you are a freelancer, agency worker, contractor or on a zero-hours contract you may only be eligible for Statutory Adoption Pay. You must meet the normal qualifying conditions and come to an agreement about your time off with your employer.

Shared Parental Leave and Pay

Similar to a pregnant couple, you may be eligible to apply for the Shared Parental Leave and Pay option. This would allow you to share some of your leave and pay with your partner in exchange for giving some of it up. For further information on this, we have compiled all the details in our parental leave guide.

Employee Rights

Your employment rights are sustained whilst on leave for the adoption of your child. This means your employer cannot discriminate against you in any performance-related decisions due to your choice to adopt a child, to go on Statutory Adoption Leave and/or to take Statutory Adoption Pay. This includes your right to pay rises, accrue holidays, and return to work

Key Takeaways

If you’re adopting a child or having a baby through a surrogacy arrangement, you have the same rights as birth parents do. As always, knowing your employee rights and those of your employer is essential for things to run smoothly. The more organised you are, the better.

Check our Refreshing a Career’s dedicated section on Parenthood for further information. We’ve got all the Support and Resources you need whether you’re expecting or adopting.

Sign up for our newsletter below for the latest from Refreshing a Career. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us directly.