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Adoption leave and pay

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Example policy and procedure: Adoption leave and pay

This is an example of an employment policy and procedure designed for a small not-for-profit employer adhering to statutory minimum requirements and does not constitute legal advice. As with all policies it should be consistent with your terms and conditions of employment, as well as your culture and aspirations. There is no one size fits all.

Download a version of this adoption leave and pay example policy and procedure (Word, 69KB)

Purpose and scope

This policy and procedure applies to all employees. This includes full-time, part-time, temporary and fixed-term.

This policy:

  • describes your entitlement to adoption leave and pay
  • provides information about returning to work after adoption leave
  • describes what we both need to do before, during and after adoption leave.


Our policy is to follow both the spirit and the letter of the law on adoption leave and pay rights. We want to inform you of your adoption rights through this policy.

Qualifying criteria

You qualify for adoption leave from the start of your employment. To qualify you must be newly matched with a child for adoption through an adoption agency. Adoption leave and pay is not available for private adoption. For example, when a step-parent is adopting a partner’s children.

Where you are part of a couple jointly adopting a child, only one person can take adoption leave. The other adoptive parent might be able to take maternity/paternity support leave, if they meet the criteria.


Telling your manager that you are adopting a child

You must inform your manager in writing of your intention to take adoption leave. This must be within seven days of the adoption agency telling you that you have been matched for adoption. You need to tell your manager when the child is due to be placed with you and when you want your adoption leave to start.

You can change your mind about the date on which you want your leave to start. To do so, tell your manager at least 28 days in advance (unless this is not practicable).

Within 28 days, we will write to you confirming the latest date on which you must return to work after adoption leave.

Matching certificate

You must give your manager documentary evidence from your adoption agency. This is so we know you should receive adoption pay and leave. You should ask your adoption agency for this documentary evidence. This will usually be a 'matching certificate' that has information on matching and expected placement dates.

Adoption appointments

The primary adopter can take paid time off to attend up to five pre-adoption appointments. The co-adopter can take unpaid time off to attend up to two pre-adoption appointments. The time off is capped at six and a half hours’ time off work on each occasion.

Please give your manager as much notice as possible of your appointments. After the first one, you should show them the appointment letter/card. The adoption agency must arrange or request the appointment. You must take the time off before the date of the child's placement for adoption.

Timing of adoption leave

Please discuss the timing of your adoption leave with your manager as early as possible. Adoption leave can start on the day the child is placed for adoption or up to 14 days earlier.

Contact during adoption leave

We may need to contact you during adoption leave. This may be to discuss plans for your return to work, to discuss any special arrangements or training to ease your return to work. It may also be to update you on developments at work during your absence.

Keep-in-touch days

You may work for the charity for up to 10 ‘keep-in-touch’ (KIT) days during your adoption leave. If you work more than this, your adoption leave will come to an end. You are not required to work a KIT day; it must be a mutual agreement between the charity and you.

If you do work a KIT day, you should agree the salary in advance because this may be different from your usual pay. A partial day’s work will be a complete day's work for these purposes.


Your entitlements to the following all mirror the rights and entitlements set out in the maternity policy, which includes:

  • adoption pay and contractual adoption pay
  • the length of time that you can take off as adoption leave
  • the entitlement to pay awards
  • the arrangements about keeping in touch with the office during your adoption leave
  • the right to transfer some of your adoption leave, under the shared parental leave provisions
  • the effect of adoption leave on contractual benefits
  • your entitlement to annual leave.

Shared parental leave

You may be able to end adoption leave and pay and take shared parental leave (SPL) and pay in conjunction with the co-adopter. You will need to meet the eligibility criteria. SPL enables parents to choose how to share the care of their child during the first year of placement. Its purpose is to give parents more flexibility in considering how to best care for, and bond with, their child. Visit our shared parental leave policy page.

Returning to work

You have the right to return to work to the same job if you return following ordinary adoption leave. If you return to work after additional adoption leave, you may also return to the same job. If this is not possible, you will return to a suitable job that is on no less favourable terms and conditions.

If you decide you do not wish to return to work, you should give written notice under your contract of employment. If you do not return to work at the end of additional adoption leave and do not contact us to notify of sickness or request other authorised leave, the absence will be unauthorised.

We will assume that you will take your full adoption leave entitlement and intend to return to work doing the same job, with the same hours. You must tell us, in writing, if you want to request a change.

You must give us at least eight weeks’ notice if you want to return to work before the end of your adoption leave. If you do not give at least eight weeks’ notice, your manager may delay your return to work by up to a further eight weeks where there is good reason.

Requesting a change to your pattern of work

You have the right to request a change to your pattern of work (subject to eligibility criteria).

Visit our flexible working policy page.

Download a version of this adoption leave and pay example policy and procedure (Word, 69KB)

Page last edited May 17, 2022

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