Always check your contract/workplace policy to clarify what you are entitled to. If you are an NHS employee please see the Agenda for Change handbook; NHS entitlements and qualifying criteria for adoption are in section 35. Below we outline the statutory minimum entitlements (unless otherwise stated).
An individual adopter will be eligible for adoption leave, subject to certain qualifying criteria. If adopting as a couple, one member of the couple will be eligible for adoption leave. The other may qualify for statutory paternity leave, regardless of gender.
Adoption leave is split into two kinds of leave:
- 26 weeks of ordinary adoption leave (OAL)
- 26 weeks of additional adoption leave (AAL) immediately following ordinary adoption leave.
To qualify for statutory adoption leave you must:
- be an employee
- be newly matched with a child by an adoption agency.
There is no specific length of service requirement to qualify for adoption leave.
You may plan to adopt a child you are fostering. To be eligible for statutory adoption leave or pay in this case, you must be matched for adoption by a recognised agency. Check your employer’s policy for your entitlements.
You must give your employer written proof that you have the right to paid statutory adoption leave. This is usually a matching certificate from your adoption agency. The adoption agency must be recognised in the UK.
You will need to undertake a series of appointments with an allocated social worker before your eligibility to adopt is confirmed. These appointments are sometimes known as ‘homestudy' assessments.
The main adopter can take paid time off for up to five adoption appointments. The other adopter will only be entitled to take unpaid time off to attend up to two appointments. Read your employer’s adoption policy. It will tell you about your entitlement to time off and any documentation you need to give the employer.
You and/or your partner can take shared parental leave if you both qualify and if the adopter ends adoption leave early, or returns to work. See our advice on shared parental leave.
You will not qualify for statutory adoption leave or pay if you:
- arrange a private adoption
- become a special guardian
- adopt a stepchild
- have a child through surrogacy.
If you are adopting a child from overseas then different rules apply. See Gov.uk for further information.