Adoption Leave

Adoption leave policies in the workplace are similar to maternity leave policies. Only one person in a couple is entitled to take adoption leave, the second adoptee will be entitled to take either pat


James Rowland

Commercial Director James leads Account Management, Sales and Marketing at Neathouse Partners.


10 September 2018


11 July 2024
3 min read

For those who adopt a child, the rules and rights regarding adoption leave are very similar to those concerning maternity leave.

Who Is Entitled To Statutory Adoption Leave?

Only one person in a couple is entitled to take adoption leave; the second adoptee will be entitled to take either paternity leave or shared parental leave.

Employees will need to provide proof that they are entitled to statutory adoption leave by providing a matching certificate from the UK recognised adoption agency.

An employee is entitled to 52 weeks adoption leave if:

  • They are matched for adoption,
  • Are fostering a child with the intention to adopt,
  • Are in a surrogacy arrangement and have applied or intend to apply for a parental order

The main adoptee is entitled to have time paid off work for up to 5 adoption appointments, while the second adoptee is entitled to have two paid appointments off.

Adoption Leave: What Employers Need To Know

Adoption leave can be for a period of up to 52 weeks.

The first 26 weeks are known as ordinary adoption leave, and the remaining 26 weeks, which run consecutively, are known as additional adoption leave.

An employee must give you 8 weeks’ notice if they intend to return to work before the end of their additional adoption leave.

An employee should tell you:

  • When they intend their adoption leave to start
  • How much leave they intend to take
  • The placement date

Adoption leave can start:

  • When the child starts living with the employee, or up to 14 days before the placement date
  • When an employee has been matched with a child via a UK adoption agency
  • Within 28 days of the child arriving in the UK if it is an overseas adoption

If the placement date or arrival date for overseas adoptions should change, the employee should notify you within 28 days.

What Rights Do Employees On Adoption Leave Have?

Similarly to maternity leave, employees on adoption leave are entitled to the same rights and benefits they would normally have been they not on adoption leave.​

They are also entitled to return to the same job they undertook prior to adoption leave, or to return to a similar job with equal or improved terms and conditions.

Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP)

An employee must give at least 28 days’ notice of when they wish their SAP to start.

Employers can request that this is in writing.

Proof of adoption is necessary in order to claim SAP.

An employee must show:

  • The name and address of the adoption agency
  • Proof of a match – usually a matching certificate
  • Confirmation of placement

For overseas adoptions, they must also show the relevant authority’s official notification approving that they are permitted to adopt, and proof of the day their child is due to arrive in the UK.

For the first 6 weeks of adoption leave, the employee is entitled to 90% of their average weekly earnings.

After this, the following 33 weeks will be paid at the statutory adoption rate of £140.98.

Companies may provide for more than this, however, it always best to refer to the individual’s contract terms to determine their rate of pay.

Overseas Adoptions

When an employee adopts a child from overseas, they must provide more detailed information. They must:

  • Provide a date of official notification
  • Give an estimated date of arrival within 28 days of the official notification
  • Give the actual date of arrival with at least 28 days’ notice
  • State how much leave they intend to take and when the leave will start, again with at least 28 days’ notice.


Where parents have a baby through a surrogate pregnancy and become the legal parents of a child following either a parental order or an adoption order, they will be eligible for adoption leave.

Adoption leave can start the day the child is born or the day after.

Employees should give you at least 15 weeks’ notice before the baby is due of their intention to take adoption leave.

Keeping in touch days

As an employer, it is good practice to agree to maintain contact with your employee while they are on adoption leave, whether this is via e-mail, phone calls, etc.

It may also be beneficial for employees to work during this keeping in touch days, for staff training or other reasons.

Employees can work up to 10 keeping in touch days without it affecting their adoption leave.

There is no provision for these days to be paid; this is something to be agreed between you and your employee.

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