Policy purpose and scope
The aim of this policy is to inform employees of their adoption rights and entitlements and to outline The Pensions Regulator’s adoption leave and pay procedures.
We are fully committed to helping working parents balance the needs of work and family life and to providing support to new parents during the first year of a child’s life.
Adoption rights apply to:
- individuals who adopt
- one member of a couple (your partner should apply for paternity/partner’s leave)
- surrogate parents
We make every effort to encourage parents to return to work following adoption leave.
Our adoption rights are either equal to or better than statutory adoption rights. Any statutory entitlements are absorbed into our more generous provisions (not additional to).
This policy applies to all employees and is non-contractual.
Statutory Adoption Leave (SAL) is 52 weeks, consisting of 26 weeks ordinary adoption leave (OAL) followed by 26 weeks additional adoption leave (AAL). There must be no gap between the two.
Only one person in a couple can take adoption leave – identified as the primary adopter. The other partner (the secondary adopter) could get paternity/partner’s leave.
You and your partner may also wish to consider shared parental leave. Please see the Shared Parental Leave Policy for further details and procedure. Adoption leave is only available if you are adopting through a UK or overseas adoption agency. You do not qualify for adoption leave if you:
- arrange a private adoption
- become a special guardian or kinship carer
- adopt a stepchild
- adopt a family member
Surrogate parents are also eligible for adoption leave. The leave will be available to employees who are, or expect to be, the parents of a child under a Parental Order.
You are entitled to SAL if you fulfil the following conditions:
- you are an employee
- you have given the correct notice
- an adoption agency has given you written notice that it has matched you with a child for adoption and the expected placement date (EPD): the date on which an adoption agency expects that it will place a child into your care with a view to adoption
- you have notified the agency that you agree to the child being placed with you on the EPD
- your spouse or partner will not be taking adoption leave with their employer (although they may be entitled to take paternity/partner's leave)
- you are surrogate parents who are, or expect to be, the parents of a child under a parental order
In addition, to be eligible to receive Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP) you must also have:
- worked for us continuously for at least 26 weeks by the week you have been matched with the child
- given the correct notice
- be earning at least £112 per week before tax
- provided proof of the adoption
There are variations in respect of the following:
- The same as above except that you must have worked continuously for us for at least 26 weeks by the time you receive the ‘official notification’ – this is permission from a UK authority that you can adopt from abroad.
- Sign form SC6 if adopting a child with your partner – this confirms that you are not taking paternity leave or pay.
Fostering for adoption
- You are entitled to leave and pay when the child comes to live with you.
- To qualify for SAP you must have worked for us continuously for at least 26 weeks by the 15th week before the baby is due.
- All other conditions for qualifying are the same as for adoptive parents.
- If you are genetically related to the child (ie egg or sperm donor) you can choose to get paternity leave and pay instead. You may not have both.
2. Start date of adoption leave
Adoption leave may start:
- up to 14 days before the date the child starts living with you (UK adoptions) or on the date of placement itself but no later
- when the child arrives in the UK or within 28 days of this date (overseas adoptions)
- the day the child is born or the day after (if you have used a surrogate to have a child)
You must notify us of your intended start date in accordance with the notice periods outlined in this policy. Once you have given this to your manager, it will be passed to HR who will write to you within 28 days setting out:
- your entitlements to adoption leave and pay
- the date on which you are expected to return to work (assuming you take your full entitlement to adoption leave) your duty to notify us if there is any change to your plans
- dates that salary payments are due
- a reminder that you must return to work for at least three months or refund the salary payments that are in excess of SAP
Changing your start / return date
If you want to change your agreed start date, you must give your manager:
- 28 days’ written notice (unless this is not reasonably practicable)
If you want to change your agreed return date, you must give:
- 56 days’ written notice
3. Notification of adoption plans: periods of notice
To apply for adoption leave you must give your manager written notice within seven days of being matched with the child of:
- the expected placement date (EPD)
- your intended start date for adoption leave and how much leave you want
To qualify for statutory adoption pay (SAP) you must also, at least 28 days before your intended start date (or, if this is not possible, as soon as you can), provide us with proof of adoption which must show:
- a matching certificate from the adoption agency confirming:
- your name and address
- the agency's name and address
- the name and date of birth of the child
- the date you were notified of the match
- the EPD
- the relevant UK authority’s official notification confirming you are allowed to adopt (overseas adoptions only)
- the date the child arrived in the UK eg plane ticket (overseas adoptions only)
- written confirmation that you intend to take statutory adoption pay and not statutory paternity / partner's pay
4. Returning to work following adoption leave
We will advise you in writing (28 days after you inform us of the date on which you intend your adoption leave to start) of your expected return date. This will be 52 weeks after the date on which your adoption leave starts. To change the agreed date of return you must give your manager 56 calendar days’ notice. Your manager will notify HR.
It would be helpful if you could inform your manager and HR as early as possible if you decide you do not want to return to work after adoption leave.
You have the right to return to work:
- to the same job on the same terms and conditions after 26 weeks leave (OAL) unless a redundancy situation has arisen during your adoption leave and for that reason it is not reasonably practicable for you to return to your old job. In this case you are entitled to be offered any suitable vacancy on terms and conditions which are no less favourable.
- to the same job on the same terms and conditions if you return during or on completion of the second 26 week adoption leave period (AAL) unless a redundancy situation has occurred or there is some other reason why it is not practicable for you to go back to your original job. In this case you are entitled to be offered any suitable vacancy on terms and conditions which are no less favourable than your original job.
Your right to return will be retained if you:
- take parental leave of four weeks or less immediately after maternity leave because parental leave has its own statutory right of return (see the Parental Leave Policy for more information)
- take two consecutive periods of adoption leave
If you wish to continue working after the adoption of your child but would find it difficult to do this on a full time basis, we will seriously consider any written request to vary your work pattern, eg to part time or job sharing.
We will treat your request as sympathetically as possible, however we are not obliged to accommodate all requests.
For more information see the Flexible Working Policy
Resigning instead of returning to work
If you want to resign after adoption leave instead of returning to work you must give the period of notice stated in your contract of employment. See the adoption pay section of this policy for details of the repayment you will have to make.
You will receive payment in lieu of any annual leave not taken.
5. Time off to attend adoption appointments
Primary adopters have a right to take paid time off to attend up to five introductory adoption meetings. Secondary adopters will be entitled to unpaid leave to attend up to two introductory adoption meetings.
Please note that if you take paid time off for introductory adoption meetings you will not later be entitled to take Paternity Leave in respect of the same child, since that type of leave is available to secondary adopters only.
The intended parents in a surrogacy arrangement who meet the qualifying criteria will be entitled to time off to attend two antenatal appointments with the surrogate mother carrying their child.
If you need to take time off to attend an introductory adoption appointment you must advise your manager well in advance. You do not have to prove that you have an appointment unless your manager asks you to do so. You must enter your absence onto the flexitime system for approval.
You should try to arrange appointments at the most convenient times for the office (at the beginning or end of the working day, for example) wherever possible.
Part-time staff and staff who do not work a five day week should try to arrange their appointments on a day they do not work.
6. Annual leave
Annual leave may be taken before or after but not during adoption leave.
If you wish to take some annual leave before going on adoption leave so that you can extend the period you are paid you should agree this with your manager in the normal way. Similarly, you may also take annual leave at the end of the paid or unpaid adoption leave, again subject to your manager's agreement.
Annual leave continues to accrue during both Ordinary Adoption Leave and Additional Adoption Leave.
If you are on adoption leave at the end of the annual leave year you may carry over any untaken annual leave days in excess of five days to the following leave year.
You will be given time off in lieu for any public holidays that occur during your adoption leave (pro rata if you are part time).
7. Adoption pay
We offer adoption pay that exceeds statutory provisions to all qualifying employees.
Statutory entitlement to adoption pay
If you are employed continuously for 26 weeks by the week you are matched with the child, you are entitled to Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP). This is payable for a total of 39 weeks. It stops being payable if you return to work sooner or if the placement is disrupted.
SAP is paid:
- at 90% of your average weekly earnings for the first six weeks
- at a prescribed rate which is set by the government for the relevant tax year, or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is lower) for the next 33 weeks
If you have been continuously employed for less than 26 weeks by the week you are matched with the child, you are not entitled to SAP.
Entitlement to our enhanced adoption pay
If you meet the SAP qualifying criteria, you will be entitled to receive:
- weeks 1 to 26 on full pay (SAP topped up to the equivalent of your contractual salary)
- weeks 27 to 39 on SAP
- weeks 40 to 52 are unpaid
If salary has been paid during the adoption leave period you must return to work for at least three months or refund the salary payments that are in excess of SAP. If you worked full-time prior to taking adoption leave but return to work on a part-time basis the three month requirement is increased in direct proportion.
If you leave employment for any reason (for example, if you resign or are made redundant) you shall still be eligible for SAP if you have already been notified by an agency that you have been matched with a child. In such cases, SAP shall start:
- 14 days before the expected placement date; or
- the day after your employment ends; whichever is the later.
8. Disrupted adoption
Adoption leave is disrupted if it has started but:
- you are notified that the placement will not take place;
- the child is returned to the adoption agency after placement; or
- the child dies after placement
In case of disruption, your entitlement to adoption leave and pay (if applicable) will continue for a further eight weeks from the end of the week in which disruption occurred, unless your entitlement to leave and / or pay would have ended earlier in the normal course of events.
9. Keeping in touch
During your adoption leave, we encourage reasonable contact with you from time to time. You will be kept informed of any organisational developments which may impact you.
Keep in touch (KIT) days
Subject to your manager’s agreement, you may carry out up to 10 days’ paid work during the leave period without bringing your leave period to an end and without losing SAP.
Payment for each day will be the equivalent of a day's contractual salary.
This is a voluntary arrangement with no compulsion on either side. It is a 'keeping in touch' initiative to help ease the return to work and will be especially beneficial if training is required or in times of organisational change.
Your manager will inform HR of days worked and HR will process any payment due.
If you feel that you have been treated unfairly whilst taking, or trying to take, adoption leave you should first try to resolve your concerns with your manager and HR. If unsuccessful, you can bring a formal grievance under the Grievance Policy.