Most companies are relatively clear on the rights of parents who are expecting a child when one of the couple is pregnant.  The rights of people who are adopting are newer and so less familiar.  Companies may have their own individual adoption policies which give adopting employees additional entitlements but there are some basic rights for people who are adopting.

If an employee qualifies then they can take up to 52 weeks of Statutory Adoption Leave (SAL).  This is made up of 26 weeks ordinary adoption leave followed by 26 weeks additional adoption leave.

To qualify for SAL the individual must be your employee, be newly matched with a child by an adoption agency and have worked continuously for you for at least 26 weeks before the beginning of the week when they are matched with a child.

If your employee meets these criteria and gives the correct notice they can take SAL no matter how many hours they work or how much they are paid.  They must give you documentary proof to show that they have the right to this leave which is usually a matching certificate from the adoption agency.

Statutory leave can start either from date the child starts living with the employee or up to 14 days before that expected date.  The employee needs to tell you that they want to take SAL within seven days of being told that they have been matched with a child for adoption or, if that is not possible, as soon as possible thereafter.

They must tell you when they expect the child to be placed with them and when they want the period of leave to start.  They can change the start date as long as they give you at least 28 days’ notice.  Within 28 days of receiving this notice you must tell them the date on which their leave will end.  They can return earlier provided that they give you at least eight weeks notice.

Only one member of a couple can take SAL and claim Statutory Adoption Pay.  The person not taking adoption leave has similar rights to paternity leave and pay as the partner of a pregnant woman.  However, in order to qualify for Additional Paternity Leave (APL) in relation to an adoption it is not enough for your employee to be the partner of someone matched with the child, they must have also been matched with the child themselves.

A co-adopter could have the right of up to 26 weeks’ APL. This is in addition to the two weeks’ Statutory Paternity Leave they could be entitled to. Additional Paternity Leave can be taken after 20 weeks after the child starts living with them and must finish before the first anniversary of the child starting to live with them.

Additional Paternity Leave is for a maximum of 26 weeks. If your employee’s partner has returned to work, the leave can be taken between 20 weeks and one year after the child is placed for adoption.

For more information on adoption rights, please contact the Peninsula Advice Service on 0844 892 2772.