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Adoption leave and pay

The statutory right to up to 52 weeks' adoption leave and 39 weeks' adoption pay is available to eligible employees adopting a newly placed child. Where a couple adopts a child jointly, only one of them can take adoption leave. The couple can choose which parent takes leave; the other parent may be able to take paternity leave, or parental leave, or shared parental leave.

Key points

  • An employee who is entitled to adoption leave can take up to 26 weeks' ordinary adoption leave, followed by a further 26 weeks of additional adoption leave. Adoption leave is a 'day one' right.
  • Up to 39 weeks' statutory adoption pay is available to eligible employees.
  • From 2 April 2023 statutory adoption pay (SAP) is £172.48 per week (see our ‘Statutory rates’ page for historic rates).
  • Parents adopting a child are entitled to time off work to attend adoption appointments.
  • The employee must notify their employer of an intention to take adoption leave within seven days of being notified of a match by the adoption agency.
  • The employment contract continues as normal during adoption leave, with the exception of pay (unless the contract allows for pay to continue).
  • The employee has an automatic right to return to work after their adoption leave. The job to which they are entitled to return will depend on whether they have taken ordinary or additional adoption leave.
  • Employees who request or take adoption leave are protected against any detriment or unfair dismissal.
  • Employees who have a child placed for adoption may be able to convert a period of adoption leave or pay into a period of shared parental leave or pay that can be taken by either parent on a flexible basis.

Recent developments

New law extends redundancy protection to new parents

The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023 became law on 24 May 2023. 

Whilst it won't come into effect until regulations have been published on it, which is likely to be around April 2024, once they are in place this law will have the following impact: 

  • Employers will be required to offer pregnant employees, and those who have come back from maternity, adoption and shared parental leave until 18 months after the birth/adoption, a suitable alternative vacancy during a redundancy exercise.
  • It will be unfair dismissal and discrimination if these employees are not favoured above all others in the redundancy exercise.
Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Act 2023 becomes law

On 24 May, the Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) became law. As this will require new statutory payments to be made, it is unlikely that it will be implemented before October 2024. 

This law gives parents of babies who need to go in hospital early in life for neonatal care extra time added to their maternity, paternity, adoption, shared parental, parental and parental bereavement leave.

New SAP rate proposed

30 November 2023

In November 2023, the Government proposed to increase key statutory rates from April 2024. Statutory maternity, paternity, adoption, shared parental and parental bereavement pay are all set to increase from £172.48 to £184.03 per week from April 2024. These increases remain proposals for now; confirmation is awaited. Whilst the Government could amend the proposals, that is highly unlikely.