Adoption pay and leave Jump to main content

Adoption pay and leave

In this article we look at adoption rights for employees. New adoptive parents have rights to statutory adoption leave and pay, and employees can take statutory adoption leave for up to 52 weeks. This 52 weeks can be categorised as follows:

  • 26 weeks of ordinary adoption leave
  • 26 weeks of additional adoption leave

For an employee to be eligible, you must:

  • give the correct notice
  • give proof of the adoption if your employer asks for it
  • sign form SC6 if you’re adopting from overseas with a partner to confirm you are not taking paternity leave or pay

It can be taken by only one person from a couple; but the other person could get paternity leave instead.

Once you have been matched to a child, you are entitled to paid time off work to attend five adoption appointments. You can choose for your adoption leave to begin:

  • up to 14 days before the date the child starts living with you (UK adoptions)
  • when the child arrives in the UK or within 28 days of this date (overseas adoptions)
  • the day the child’s born or the day after (if you’ve used a surrogate to have a child)

However, if the placement date (or UK arrival date for overseas adoptions) changes, it is your duty to inform your employer within 28 days of the date of placement. And, if you wish to change the date to return to work, you must give your employer at least eight weeks’ notice.

Adoption pay

To qualify for statutory adoption pay, you must:

  • have been in continuous employment with your current employer for at least 26 weeks by the week you were matched with a child
  • earn on average at least £120 a week (before tax)
  • give the correct notice
  • give proof of the adoption or surrogacy

There are circumstances where you will not qualify for statutory adoption leave or pay as follows:

  • arrange a private adoption
  • become a special guardian or kinship carer
  • adopt a stepchild
  • adopt a family member

The weekly amount for statutory adoption pay is 90% of your average weekly earnings for the first six weeks, then (for 2021) £151.97 or 90% of your average weekly earnings, whichever is less for the next 33 weeks.

Your employer may give you enhanced adoption leave and pay where they have a company adoption pay scheme – check your contract of employment and any employer’s policies.

You may decide to share up to 50 weeks of your maternity or adoption leave with your partner, by opting into the shared parental leave and pay regime. Contact [email protected] if you have questions about shared parental leave and pay.

Paternity rights

Advice on statutory paternity leave and shared parental leave for new or prospective fathers.