Adoption Leave: A Guide for New Parents

Adoption Leave expected date, suitable alternative job, agency workers, child tax credit

In this guide, we'll navigate the essentials of adoption leave, from its duration to eligibility criteria.

What is adoption leave ?

Adoption leave is a type of leave that employers may provide to employees who have recently adopted or are in the process of adopting a child.

This type of leave allows for the employee to take extended time away from work to bond with and adjust to their new family member.

How long is an adoption leave?

The length of an adoption leave can vary depending on the employer's policies. Typically Eligible employees are entitled to up to 52 weeks' statutory adoption leave (regardless of how long they have worked for the University). 

The first 26 weeks are called ordinary adoption leave, and during this time, the employee is entitled to receive payments from their employer (if they meet certain eligibility requirements).

The remaining 26 weeks are called additional adoption leave, and the employee is not entitled to receive payments from their employer during this time. 

What are the eligibility requirements?

The eligibility requirements for adoption leave vary depending on the country and the employer. Here are some common eligibility requirements that may apply:

  • You must be an employee of the company for a certain length, such as six months or a year.

  • You must have notified your employer of your intention to take adoption leave within a certain timeframe before the expected placement of the child.

  • You must have been matched with a child for adoption through an approved adoption agency.

  • You must be responsible for the child's upbringing, which typically means you have parental legal responsibility.

  • You must not have taken more than the maximum amount of adoption leave allowed by law or your employer in the past.

  • You must meet any other requirements specified by your employer or the government, such as providing evidence of the adoption or the child's birth certificate.

It's important to note that these eligibility requirements can vary depending on your country and employer, so it's important to check with your employer or government regulations to determine what applies to your situation.

Rules regarding adoption pay

There are two types of adoption pay:  

Statutory adoption pay (SAP)

Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP) is the minimum pay that adoptive parents are entitled to receive from their employer during their adoption leave period. The government sets this pay, and is subject to change each year. SAP is paid for up to 39 weeks, and the amount is based on a percentage of the adoptive parent's average weekly earnings.


To be eligible for SAP, the adoptive parent must have been employed with their current employer for at least 26 weeks, earn an average of at least £120 per week, and meet other eligibility criteria set by the government.

Contractual Adoption Pay

Contractual adoption pay is an amount that some employers may offer to adoptive parents in addition to SAP. The employer's policies determine this pay and may be more than the legal minimum and amount of SAP.


The amount of contractual adoption pay and the time it is paid can vary depending on the employer's policies. Adoptive parents need to check with their employer to determine if they offer contractual adoption pay and what the policies are.

SAP and contractual adoption pay are designed to provide adoptive parents financial support during their adoption leave period. The specific amount and eligibility requirements for each type of pay can vary depending on the country and employer.

The importance of adoption leave for new parents

mom-and-little-foster-daughter-drawing-painting-to-2022-07-27-17-37-18-utc_50Adoption leave is crucial for new parents who have adopted a child. Here are some reasons why adoption leave is important:

  • Bonding with the child: Adoption leave gives adoptive parents time to bond with their new child, which is essential for building a strong and healthy attachment.

  • Adjusting to a new family situation: Adopting a child can be a major life change, and it can take time for both the child and the parents to adjust to their new family situation. Adoption leave allows adoptive parents to take the time to settle into their new roles.

  • Supporting the child's development: The early months of a child's life are critical for their development, and having a parent present during this time can significantly impact their well-being.

  • Reducing stress: Adopting a child can be stressful, and adoption leave can help reduce the stress that adoptive parents may experience during this time. By providing time off from work, adoption leave can help adoptive parents focus on their new family situation and adjust to their new roles.

Useful Read: Stress Leave from work: Implications and Best Practices

  • Equalizing parental leave: In some countries, adoption leave policies are designed to provide the same benefits as maternity and paternity leave, which helps to ensure that adoptive parents have the same opportunities to bond with and care for their child as biological parents.

The process of applying for an adoption leave

Here is the steps that you can follow:

  • Review your employer's adoption leave policy: Before you apply for adoption leave, review your employer's policy to understand the length of the leave and the eligibility requirements.

  • Give notice to your employer: In many countries, you will need to notify your employer in writing that you intend to take adoption leave. This notice may need to be given at least a certain number of weeks before the start of the leave.

  • Provide documentation: You may need to provide documentation to your employer to confirm your eligibility for adoption leave. This may include the adoption certificate or a letter from the adoption agency.

  • Discuss return-to-work plans: It's a good idea to discuss your return-to-work plans with your employer before you begin your adoption leave. This may include discussing any flexibility needed in your work schedule or any changes to your job responsibilities.

  • Apply for adoption pay (if applicable): If you are entitled to adoption pay, you must apply for it separately from your adoption leave. This may require providing additional documentation or filling out forms.

  • Stay in touch during your leave: Depending on your employer's policy, you may be required to stay in touch during your adoption leave. This could include attending occasional meetings or updating your plans for returning to work.

Following the proper steps ensures a smooth transition into your adoption leave and a successful return to work.

Useful Read: The Phased Return to Work Process: Balancing Employee Health and Business Needs

What other types of leave are available for adoptive parents?

In addition to adoption leave, other types of leave may be available for adoptive parents, depending on the country and employer. Here are some examples:

  • Parental Leave: Parental leave is a type of leave available to both biological and adoptive parents to care for a new child. This leave may be available in addition to adoption leave or combined with it.

  • Paternity Leave: Paternity leave is available to fathers, including adoptive fathers, to bond with their new children. This leave may be available in addition to adoption leave or combined with it.

  • Shared Parental Leave: Shared parental leave allows both parents to share the leave entitlement, meaning that one parent can return to work while the other takes leave. This leave may be available in addition to adoption leave or combined with it.

  • Surrogacy leaves: If you have a child through surrogacy, you might be entitled to adoption leave. When an employee takes time off to adopt a child or have a child through a surrogacy arrangement, they might also be eligible for Statutory Adoption Pay.

  • Sick Leave: Sick leave may be available to adoptive parents if they or their child become ill during the adoption leave period.

By taking advantage of these leave options, adoptive parents can ensure they have the time and support needed to adjust to their new family situation and provide the best care for their child.

Useful Read: What is Statutory Paternity Pay in the UK? A Guide

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What are your rights as an adoptive parent?

Do you know about your rights? Then you need to know about that. Here are your rights:

  • Equal Treatment: Adoptive parents are generally entitled to the same benefits and protections as biological parents. This means you should not be discriminated against because you have adopted a child and should be treated fairly in the workplace.

  • Anti-Discrimination Laws: In some countries, there are specific anti-discrimination laws that protect adoptive parents from discrimination in the workplace. These laws may prohibit employers from treating adoptive parents differently regarding pay, promotions, or other job-related benefits.

  • Adoption Assistance Programs: Some employers or government agencies may offer assistance programs to help cover adoption costs, including adoption fees, legal expenses, and travel expenses.

It's important to note that the legal protections and rights for adoptive parents can vary depending on your location and the laws that govern adoption in your area.

Impact of adoption pay on career prospects: how to balance work and family 

Adoption leave can positively impact an adoptive parent's career prospects. Taking the time to care for your child during adoption can allow you to develop new skills and build relationships with colleagues, employers, and clients. However, taking unpaid adoption leave may also mean missing out on important work opportunities or promotions.

Balancing work and family can be difficult, but careful planning makes it possible. Here are some tips to help you balance career prospects and adoption leave:

  • Plan Ahead: Make sure you plan for your adoption leave so that you can make the most of your time off. Discuss your plans with your employer so they can arrange to cover your work while you are away.

  • Keep in Touch: Stay in touch with your employer throughout your adoption leave, and inform them about any noteworthy changes or developments. You may also want to consider speaking to colleagues or mentors who have gone through the adoption process before, as they may be able to provide advice and support.

  • Consider Flexible Working: If available, flexible options such as job-sharing or remote working can help you balance work and family life after adoption. Speak to your employer about your plans for returning to work, and see if any suitable flexible arrangements could benefit both parties.


Adoption leave is a vital part of any new family's journey, allowing adoptive parents the necessary time to welcome their child into the world.

It is important to ensure that both yourself and your partner understand the legal rights of taking adoption leave and pay. Also, be aware of any employers' discretion regarding additional leave taken as an act of support. 

On top of this, it's essential to consider what might come after maternity or paternity leave ends and ensure that you have savings or financial support ready when you resume work.

Absence Management
Topic: Leave
Rinaily Bonifacio

Written by:

Rinaily Bonifacio

Rinaily is a renowned expert in the field of human resources with years of industry experience. With a passion for writing high-quality HR content, Rinaily brings a unique perspective to the challenges and opportunities of the modern workplace. As an experienced HR professional and content writer, She has contributed to leading publications in the field of HR.


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