Adoption leave and rights

Employees who have worked for their employer for at least 26 weeks ending with the week in which they are notified of having been matched with a child are entitled to 52 weeks statutory maternity leave.


The adopter

Adoption leave is an entilement for the individual who has been matched with the child for adoption. If the child is jointly adopted by a couple one of them will need to elect to be the adopter for the purpose of adoption leave. The other parent may be entitled to paternity leave.


Period of adoption leave 

Statutory adoption leave is divided into two main periods –

  • 26 weeks of Ordinary Adoption Leave (OAL) 
  • 26 weeks of Additional Adoption Leave (AAL)

OAL begins on a date chosen by the employee which is either:

  • the day the child is placed with them for adoption
  • by notice on a date up to 14 days before the date of the placement

AAL automatically starts at the end of the OAL period and the employee does not need to give notice that she is taking it.


Giving notice of statutory adoption leave

An employee who wants to take statutory adoption leave must give her employer notice that she will do so.  The notice must be given to the employer within 7 days of the employee being notified of being matched with a child.


The notice does not have to be in writing unless the employer requests that it be put in writing.


If an adopter has not been able to give proper notice she must notify her employer as soon as resonably practicable.


If correct notice is not given then the adopter will lose their right to statutory adoption leave.


Right to return to work after adoption leave

An adopter has a right to return to work after adoption leave as follows:

  • If she takes OAL only she must be allowed to return to the job she was doing before she started maternity leave
  • If she takes OAL and AAL she must be allowed to return to her previous job but if the employer can show that it was not reasonably practicable to allow her to return to that job, they must offer her suitable alternative work.


Terms and conditions during adoption leave

Apart from pay an adopter is entitled to all the terms and conditions of employment which would have applied as if she had been at work. Non-pay benefits such as gym membership should continue.


She is only entitled to any contractual or stautory adoption pay during her period of leave.


More information on adoption pay


Working during adoption leave

If an adopter returns to work or does any work under her contract of employment her statutory adoption leave will end and she cannot return to it.


Keeping in touch days

There is a limited exception to the limitation on doing work during statutory adoption leave. An employee can work for up to 10 days during her leave without the leave ending.  The days can be worked on any basis by agreement between the parties. The days work can be paid or unpaid by agreement.


Unfair dismissal and redundancy

It is unfair dismissal to dismiss and employee because they are exercising a right to take adoption leave.


If a redundancy situation arises an employer must give preference to employees in any offers of alternative employment.

Need to understand a word or phrase?

Employment Law Glossary

Help us and win £10!

User survey





Zero increases by 26%

The Office for National Statistics has released new figures that show nearly 700,000 people work on zero hours contracts - up 26% from last year.  The problems caused by these contracts will require a significant change in the law.

Read More 0 Comments