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Adoption Policy

Policy Statement

This model policy sets out adoption leave and pay entitlements and the procedure for employees to request adoption leave. The policy and procedure are in line with the statutory minimum requirements for adoption leave.

What is Adoption Leave?

Statutory adoption leave (SAL) may be taken by an employee when a child up to 18 years of age is placed with them for adoption, provided they meet certain qualifying conditions. In most cases, the employee will also be entitled to receive statutory adoption pay (SAP).

Where a couple (whether opposite-sex or same-sex partners) are adopting jointly, only one may take SAL (and receive SAP). The other may be entitled (subject to meeting certain eligibility criteria) to take one or two weeks’ paid paternity leave and/or a period of [unpaid/paid] parental leave. (See the organisation’s paternity and parental leave policies for further details.)

Parents adopting step-children of a partner do not qualify for SAL or SAP, although they may qualify for parental leave.

Rights Prior to Adoption Leave

Employees that are adopting are entitled to time off for adoption appointments to either have contact with the child, or for another purpose connected to the adoption.

The lead adopter is entitled to up to five paid adoption appointments (each of no more than 6.5 hours)

The secondary adopter is entitled to up to two adoption appointments, without pay (each of no more than 6.5 hours).

Eligibility for Adoption Leave

To qualify for adoption leave an employee must:

Pay and Benefits During Adoption Leave

Most employees are entitled to receive SAP during their SAL.

In addition to the eligibility requirements for SAL listed above, to be entitled to SAP the employee must have:

The maximum entitlement to SAP is 39 weeks’ pay. Employees will receive higher rate of SAP in respect of the first six weeks (90% of average earnings) and the flat lower rate of SAP for the remaining entitlement.

An employee who is not entitled to SAP will be sent a letter explaining why they are not eligible.

How Much Leave May be Taken

An eligible employee is entitled to an overall entitlement of 52 weeks’ adoption leave (comprising 26 weeks’ ordinary adoption leave (OAL) followed immediately by a further 26 weeks of additional adoption leave (AAL)).

The employee can start their leave on any day of the week, from either:

Only one period of leave is permitted for each placement regardless of how many children are placed at that time as part of the same arrangement.

If, for some reason, the placement is not successful and ends after the adoption leave period has begun, the employee will be allowed to continue their adoption leave for a maximum of eight weeks after the end of week the placement ends, or until the end of the maximum leave period, if that is sooner.

If the employee starts their adoption leave before the child is placed, they need to be sure that the placement is going ahead. If it is delayed once the employee has started their leave, they cannot stop their leave and start it again at a later date.

Giving the Correct Notice to Take SAL and Receive SAP

The employee must notify the organisation of their intention to take adoption leave within seven days of being notified of a match by the adoption agency, unless this is not reasonably practicable.

The employee must provide the following details in writing:

The employee can change their mind over when they would like to commence their adoption leave provided they give at least 28 days’ notice of the change (unless this is not reasonably practicable).

The employee must provide their employer with documentary evidence of the placement for adoption in the form of a matching certificate.

Shared Parental Leave

Employees entitled to adoption leave may be able to convert a period of this into a period of shared parental leave (SPL) and pay, subject to meeting the required eligibility and notifications requirements.

Contractual Terms and Conditions During Adoption Leave

During OAL and AAL the employee’s contract of employment continues as normal with the exception of remuneration.

This includes:

During periods of paid adoption leave the organisation will continue to pay pension contributions, which will be calculated as if the employee was in receipt of their normal remuneration.

If the employee normally makes pension contributions, these will also continue during periods of paid leave but will be based on what the employee is actually paid rather than on their normal remuneration.

Returning to Work

If the employee intends to take their full adoption leave entitlement, there is no need to formally notify the organisation of their return to work.

The employee is allowed to return early from leave. However, they must provide (preferably in writing) eight weeks’ notice of their intended early date of return.

If the adoption placement is disrupted and the employee is returning earlier than expected, they still need to give the eight weeks’ notice.

If the employee attempts to return early without notification, the organisation may delay the return by up to eight weeks, provided this does not extend beyond the end of their maximum leave entitlement.

The employee has the right to return to the same job following a period of OAL.

Following AAL the employee is also entitled to return to the same job unless there is a good reason why they cannot do so, in which case the employee must be offered a similar job on terms and conditions that are no less favourable than their original job.

If the employee decides not to return to work at all at the end of their adoption leave, they must tender their resignation giving their usual period of notice.

Working During the Adoption Leave Period

An employee can, by agreement, work during their adoption leave for up to 10 “keeping in touch” (KIT) days without bringing their adoption leave to an end or losing SAP.

An employee does not have to work on such a day if they do not wish to do so. Equally, the organisation is not obliged to offer any KIT days.

Before the employee works on a KIT day, they must agree with their line manager on the amount of pay that they will receive for that day and for that week.

The total duration of the adoption leave period will remain at 52 weeks, regardless of whether or not an employee works on one or more KIT days.

Contact During the Adoption Leave Period

The organisation is entitled to make reasonable contact with the employee during their adoption leave. The organisation will contact the employee, eg to discuss whether or not their planned date of return to work has changed or is likely to do so, or to discuss any flexible working arrangements that would make their return to work easier.

The employee is also entitled to make reasonable contact with the organisation during their adoption leave, eg to discuss any flexible working arrangements that would make the return to work easier.

Redundancy During Adoption Leave

If an employee’s post should become redundant during their absence on adoption leave, they will be entitled to be offered a suitable alternative job if one exists.


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