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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 5 April 2020, the statutory adoption pay rate is £151.97 per week from 4 April 2021 per week, expected to increase on 3 April 2022 to £156.66 (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.

Recent developments 

Expected increase to statutory adoption pay for April 2022 announced

In a Written Statement to Parliament by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and proposals set out in a Department for Work and Pensions Policy Paper the new rates for statutory payments from April 2022 have been put forward. These rates are usually increased each April in line with the Consumer Price Index, and the proposals are generally always accepted. 

Statutory adoption pay, currently paid at £151.97, is expected to increase to £156.66 from 3 April 2022. 

Protection against redundancy to be extended for new parents

Following a consultation, the government has confirmed that redundancy protection for new parents will be extended. Currently, those on maternity leave who are at risk of redundancy must be offered suitable alternative roles in advance of others. This protection ends once the employee returns to work.

Furture changes will mean that this protection starts from the date the employee informs her employers that she is pregnant, whether verbally or in writing, and will last for a further six month period once the employee returns to work.

The extended protection will also be available to those on adoption leave and shared parental leave, although further guidance will be released on how this works due to the differences in the shared parental leave scheme.

The date these changes take effect has not yet been confirmed. More information can be found in our news article.