What is adoption leave?

09 July 2019

If you have an employee looking to take time off and adopt a child, then you might wonder where your business stands about this situation.

In this guide, we explain your legal responsibilities and how to ensure your staff members can claim time off to adopt.

Can employees take time off work to adopt?

Yes. Each member of staff has adoption leave rights. They can legally take up to 52 weeks of child adoption leave (providing they're the main adopter).

Part of this includes taking time off work for the adoption process. There is an eligibility criteria to determine the amount of leave and pay an employee will receive.

There are rules on how and when you can claim for the process. You can read these on the British government site: Adoption pay and leave. As an employer, you must recognise your staff is protected by the right to:

But if they can claim, a staff member is able to take up to five appointments. This is before the adoption takes place and is to have contact with the child (or for any other purpose during the process).

If an employee has qualified for a match with a child, then there’s a type of maternity leave for adoption (for those reading, please note this isn't a standard term during adoption leave, yet is commonly used by those researching it).

But your employee must qualify for it—there’s specific criteria to meet. It’s only for a staff member who matches with a child as part of an adoption agency. The process is available to:

  • People looking to adopt.
  • One person in a couple looking for shared adoption leave (again, this isn't a standard term). After this, the couple has to choose which one will take the adoption leave.
  • The partner of an individual who adopts.
  • Another member of a couple jointly adopting.

You can, of course, establish a surrogacy leave policy at your business to ensure any absent staff members have their roles covered.

Is there adoption leave pay?

For adoption leave and pay, your staff members can claim paid time off (providing they meet the lower earnings limit). For adoption leave pay, for the first six weeks it's at 90% of the staff member’s standard wage. After the first six weeks, statutory adoption pay begins. This is £151.20.

These laws are part of the Paternity and Adoption Leave Regulations 2002. It’s a statutory instrument for labour laws in the UK regarding adoption and maternity leave.

What about foster care leave?

In the event a children’s parents have died, or are unable to look after them, then they will enter the care of a guardian. This can be temporary custody or permanent situation.

From a business perspective, will you need to pay your staff for this? Well, foster care leave from work typically doesn’t allow the individual to claim any paid time off.

There's an exception to this: foster to adopt leave. Employees who have 26 weeks’ worth of service with your business do have the legal right to claim for flexible working hours.

As such, any foster parents within your organisation can claim a work-life balance with you that supports their new responsibilities. You’re under no obligations to agree to this request.

But the main requirement is you respond to the request in a reasonable amount of time.

What should my adoption leave policy include?

As part of your equality and opportunity drives in employment, you should refer to your HR department to create rules supporting your adoption policies.

It should indicate your rules regarding statutory adoption leave, adoption paternity leave, and parental leave adoption.

If you need any assistance putting together a template policy, you can get in touch with our HR experts for guidance.

Need more assistance?

We can help you work out how much annual leave to provide your staff members. Call us today on: 0800 028 2420.

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