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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 now a 'day one' right.
  • Up to 39 weeks' statutory adoption pay is available to eligible employees.
  • From 3 April 2022 statutory adoption pay (SAP) is £156.66 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 his or her 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 his or her 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.