If you have decided to adopt a child, you may be surprised to learn that you could be entitled to take paid leave during the process.
Similarly to maternity leave, if you qualify you can take up to 52 weeks off work, with 39 of those being paid.
Bear in mind that only one person in a couple can qualify for paid adoption leave, although your partner may qualify for paid paternity leave instead (or vice versa).
How Do I Qualify?
In order to qualify for Statutory Adoption Leave (SAL), you must:
- Be an employee and have worked for your employer continuously for at least 26 weeks by the week you were matched with a child
- Give the correct notice to your employer
- Provide proof of the adoption to your employer if required to do so
In order to qualify for Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP), you will need to meet the requirements for SAL and earn at least £111 a week on average before tax.
However, you won’t be able to claim SAP or SAL if you are:
- Arranging a private adoption
- Looking to become a special guardian or kinship carer
- Adopting a stepchild
- Having a child through surrogacy
- Adopting a family member or stepchild
How Much Leave Am I Entitled to?
If you qualify, you will be entitled to take up to 52 weeks leave. SAL consists of:
- 26 weeks of Ordinary Adoption Leave
- 26 weeks of Additional Adoption Leave
It is possible that your employer may offer more generous terms than this, so check to make sure.
If you are adopting a child from the UK, you can take your leave up to 14 days before your child begins living with you (also known as the date of placement). This changes if you are adopting a child from another country, in which case your leave can start when the child arrives in the UK or within 28 days of this date.
If the date of placement changes for any reason, you will need to tell your employer within 28 days. Also, if you wish to change the day you return to work, you will need to give your employer at least 8 weeks’ notice.
How Much Will I Receive?
For the year 2014/2015, SAP is the lower of £138.18 per week or 90% of your average weekly earnings before tax. It is payable for 39 weeks and will be paid either weekly or monthly depending on how you are normally paid by your employer. You SAP will start when you begin your adoption leave and all the relevant taxes such as Income Tax and National Insurance will be deducted at source.
Once again, your employer may offer more generous pay than this statutory minimum, so make sure you’re getting everything that you’re entitled to.
How Do I Claim Paid Adoption Leave?
In order to claim SAL, you need to tell your employer within 7 days of being matched with your child:
- How many days leave you wish to take
- When you want your leave to start
- The date of placement
In turn, your employer is entitled to ask that you make the request in writing. You may also be required to provide proof of the adoption.
Within 28 days, your employer must confirm the dates your leave will start and end.
In order to claim SAP, inform your employer that you are adopting a child and when you want your SAP to start, giving at least 28 days’ notice. If your employer requests it, you must also provide the request in writing. Proof of the adoption is required for SAP applications.
Again, within 28 days, your employer must confirm how much SAP you will receive and when payment will commence and cease.
If you are adopting a child from outside the UK, you will also need to provide:
- Your ‘official notification’ date
- The estimated date the child arrives in the UK - within 28 days of getting the notification
- The actual date the child arrives in the UK - within 28 days of this date
- How much leave you want and your start date - giving your employer 28 days’ notice
What Is Proof of Adoption?
Basically, proof of adoption is a document(s) showing the following important details:
- Your name and address and the adoption agency’s details
- The match date (the matching certificate would be suitable)
- The date of placement (such as outlined in a letter from the adoption agency)
For overseas adoptions, the proof will also need to show:
- Official notification from the relevant UK authority confirming you’re allowed to adopt
- The date the child arrived in the UK (a plane ticket for example)
What If I Have Any Problems?
If your employer decides you’re ineligible, you should be given an SAP1 form within 7 days explaining the reasons why your request for SAP was refused.
If disagree with your employer’s conclusion, or have any other problems with your claim or questions about the process, you can contact the Statutory Payment Disputes Team on 03000 560 630 who will be happy to help.
Hopefully this guide will help answer some of your questions, but as always, do your own research and best of luck with your adoption.