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How to make an Adoption leave policy

Use an adoption leave policy to set out your business’ approach to adoption leave and pay.

Recently reviewed by Lauren Delin, Solicitor.

This adoption leave policy was last reviewed on 14 April 2022.

This document is GDPR compliant.

Use this adoption leave policy:

  • if you or your business employ staff in England, Wales or Scotland

  • to inform staff about adoption leave and pay entitlements

This adoption leave policy template covers: 

  • when employees can take adoption leave, and for how long

  • how much employees are paid during adoption leave

  • how much time employees can take off work to attend adoption appointments

  • allowances for regular adoption, fostering to adopt, and adoption through surrogacy

  • the processes for organising adoption leave

  • carrying over annual leave (ie holiday) entitlement which can’t be used because of adoption leave

  • requesting a flexible working arrangement after adoption leave

Adoption leave is the equivalent of maternity leave for individuals or couples who are adopting a child. An adoption leave policy sets out your business’ approach to adoption, including the entitlements, rules and procedures which apply to employees. Read Adoption leave and pay for more information and Adoption for more information on the adoption process.

The decision to adopt can be the result of difficult circumstances, so it’s important that employers consider and make allowances for employees adopting children just as they would for employees giving birth to their own children. You should create an adoption leave policy for your business so that employees are aware of the allowances you make for them if they choose to adopt. 

An adoption leave policy can also help you to meet the statutory requirements set by the Government for adoption leave and pay.

Employees are entitled to Statutory Adoption Leave (SAL) from the first day of their employment. SAL is 52 weeks of leave. Employers can choose to give their employees more time off (sometimes referred to as ‘enhanced’ or ‘contractual’ adoption leave) and can impose additional eligibility requirements for the enhanced allowance. For more information, read Adoption leave and pay.

To qualify for Statutory Adoption Leave, staff must:

  • be an employee

  • give their employer the correct notice of their upcoming adoption

  • provide proof of the adoption or surrogacy, if requested by the employer

  • sign Form SC6 confirming that paternity leave or pay will not be taken (if adopting from abroad only)

  • not adopt through a private adoption (ie they must match with a child through an adoption agency or have arranged a surrogacy)

  • not adopt a stepchild or family member, or become a special guardian or kinship carer

For more information, read Adoption leave and pay.

The earliest date adoption leave can start is:

  • up to 14 days before the child starts living with them (for UK adoptions)

  • when the child first arrives in the UK or within 28 day of this date (for adoptions from abroad)

  • the day the child is born or the following day (for adoptions via surrogacy)

During adoption leave, employees must be paid at least the Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP) rates. As of 6 April 2022, SAP is:

  • during the first 6 weeks of leave – 90% of an employee’s normal pay 

  • during the remaining 33 weeks – the lower of £156.66 per week, or 90% of the employee’s average weekly pay. 

For more information, read Adoption leave and pay.

To qualify for Statutory Adoption Pay, staff must:

  • have at least 26 weeks of continuous service with their employer before:

    • being matched with a child (for adoptions via an adoption agency)

    • taking adoption pay (for adoptions from overseas)

    • the ‘qualifying week’, ie 15 weeks before the baby is due (for adoptions via surrogacy)

  • earn at least £123 a week (before tax)

  • provide the correct notice

  • provide proof of the adoption or surrogacy

  • not adopt through a private adoption

  • not adopt a stepchild or family member, or become a special guardian or kinship carer

If adopting from abroad, Form SC6 (confirming that paternity leave or pay will not be taken) must also be signed. If adopting via surrogacy, the employee must also intend to apply for a parental order or an adoption order and expect the order to be granted.

For more information, read Adoption leave and pay.

Employees should return to work after their adoption leave period ends. If employees want to return to work on a different date than initially agreed, they must usually provide at least 8 weeks’ notice.

For more information on returning to work and employees’ rights during adoption leave, read Adoption leave and pay.

Ask a lawyer for advice if you:

  • are adopting a child from a non-UK adoption agency 

  • want to change the job role an employee returns to after their adoption leave

  • want to create a bespoke adoption policy with different provisions for different employees (eg depending on how long they have worked for you)

This adoption leave policy is governed by the laws of England, Wales and Scotland.

Other names for an Adoption leave policy

Adoption policy, Adoption statement, Adoption pay policy, Adoption leave and pay policy, Adoption and surrogacy policy, Adoption leave policy UK.