If you’re considering an adoption in the UK, you may be entitled to adoption leave and pay – which can take the form of either the statutory provision offered by all employers (subject to certain requirements) or an enhanced provision which is offered by some employers and would be detailed in your contract or work handbook.
If you’re unsure of either the claims process or your eligibility for adoption pay, this article provides an overview and links to allow you to seek further information and personalised advice depending on your current situation and location within the UK.
1. Know Your Entitlement
The current provision for adoption allows up to 52 weeks of leave from work, which can start from either up to 14 days before the child is placed with you in the case of UK adoptions, 28 days from the date of the child arriving in the UK in the case of overseas option or from the date of birth in the case of a surrogate birth. Only one parent is eligible for adoption leave, although the other parent may be able to take paternity or parental leave – whatever the case, adoption pay is paid to only one parent.
The amounts paid are subject to annual review, but at present the pay offered is 90% of average earnings for the first six weeks of leave, followed by up to 33 weeks at £139.58 per week (or 90% of average earnings if it is lower than this).
2. Check Your Eligibility
To be eligible for adoption pay, you must have worked for your current employer for six months, and earn at least £112 per week. You must also give the correct notice – which means that you have to tell your employer formally of your intention to take leave within seven days of a child being matched with you, and you may be asked to provide proof of the adoption to your employer. There are slightly different rules if you are adopting from abroad or using a surrogate.
You are not eligible if you adopt a stepchild or family member, arrange a private adoption, or become a special guardian.
3. Make Your Application
You must make your application direct to your employer, stating what date you want your adoption leave to start from, how much leave you would like to take, and the date that your child will be placed with you. Your employer should confirm all of this within 28 days, and you are asked to give at least 28 days’ notice of your intention to take adoption leave.
If for some reason your employer does not believe that you are eligible for adoption pay, they have to inform you within 28 days also.
4. Know Where to Find Out More
There is a useful overview guide on the UK government website, and the Citizens Advice Bureau have lots of information about how to apply for adoption leave and your rights in work more generally.
See also: How to Make The Most of Parental Leave
Adopting a child is an emotional experience, and support from your employer is vital. Make sure that you know your entitlements and how to apply and make the most of the benefits that are there to support you.