Introduction to adoption leave rights & summary

Introduction to Adoption Rights

As an adopting parent you have various rights that are the same as those for someone who will be taking maternity leave on the birth of a child.

It can be difficult to find information about adoption leave rights as there is only a small percentage of people who adopt a child each year when compared to those who take maternity or paternity leave.  It is for this reason that there is also limited case law on the subject, and why most employers have a maternity policy but no adoption policy.

The aim of is to provide comprehensive, informative and supportive advice and we will provide as much information as possible to assist you. However if you have any experience first hand or any tips, hints and helpful guidance please get in touch or leave a comment.

Note that the position as stated below applies to parents adopting a child in the UK, the rules for overseas adoption are slightly different.

Adoption Leave & Pay

The law provides for statutory adoption leave of 52 weeks in total. This is split into 26 weeks additional adoption leave and 26 ordinary adoption leave.

Out of the 52 weeks adoption leave,  employees are entitled to receive statutory adoption pay for 39 weeks.

Adoption leave and pay is available to qualifying employees. Further information regarding this can be found in a separate post. Please use the search bar at the top of the home page.

Who qualifies for Adoption Leave & Pay

An employee who has been matched with a child by an adoption agency will qualify for adoption leave and pay.

An adoption agency for the purposes of the law is either a local authority or an approved adoption agency.

Who does not qualify for Adoption Leave & Pay?

The following employees do not have any right to adoption leave or pay in law;

  • Private adopters
  • Step-parents who adopt a child of their spouse/partner
  • Foster parents who adopt a foster child by means of a Court order
  • Those who become parents via a surrogate mother

These employees may still qualify for leave and pay if the Employer has their own adoption scheme, however as most Employers do not tend to extend the right beyond the legal minimum it is unlikely. It is advisable to check any handbooks or policies just in case.

Also note that foster parents & those who have a surrogate may qualify if an agency provides a matching certificate that places the child with them.

Which parent takes the Adoption Leave & Pay

To reflect the fact that it is not just married men and woman who adopt children, adoption rights are extended to all qualifying adopters.

When a couple adopt a child either partner or spouse can take advantage of the legal rights, and it is for the couple to decide who this will be. This includes mixed gender and same sex couples.

The other parent may then become eligible for paternity leave and pay.

What happens if I adopt a child from overseas?

Parents who adopt a child from outside of the UK will qualify for slightly different rights to UK adopters. Further information regarding this can be found in a separate post. Please use the search bar at the top of the home page.

Summary of Key rights of an adopter at work?

  • Adoption leave
  • Adoption leave pay
  • The right to return to the same job during ordinary adoption leave
  • The right to return to a suitable job, in the same circumstances during / following additional adoption leave
  • Priority to be offered a suitable alternative job role if there is a redundancy situation
  • Protection from detriment and/or dismissal relating to adoption leave.
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Any questions? Contact us

Appointments are available on the telephone or via Skype throughout the UK.

Alternatively we offer face to face appointments on the Isle of Wight, in Eastleigh, Salisbury, Southampton, Fareham, Portsmouth, Winchester and surrounding areas in Hampshire.

The information contained in this blog post is provided for guidance and is a snapshot of the law at the time it is written. It is provided for your information only and should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice that it specific to your particular circumstances.

The guidance should not be relied upon in any decision making process. It is strongly recommended that you seek advice before taking action.

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