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If you have decided to adopt, you have many of the same legal rights as other new parents. And your employer may have a more generous policy than the legal minimum.

Only employees can take adoption leave (but agency workers will be eligible for adoption pay if they earn enough and have enough service).

If you are both employees, you can decide between you who will be the ‘primary adopting parent’ when it comes to exercising your employment rights.

The primary adopting parent can take up to 52 weeks of adoption leave from day one of their employment, although to qualify for statutory adoption pay, they must have worked for their employer for at least six months.

You may be eligible to share some of the 52 weeks of adoption leave between you. This is called ‘shared parental leave’.

The partner who is not the primary adopting parent can take up to two weeks’ leave around the time of the adoption, as long as they are an employee and have been working for their employer for six months or more.

This leave must be taken within eight weeks of the adoption and is called ‘paternity leave’.     

It is against the law for your employer to penalise you in any way because you are adopting. 

Your employer must apply the same rules on adoption leave and pay to same-sex couples as they do to heterosexual couples.

As well as rights to adoption leave and pay, you have legal rights to time off for adoption appointments before the adoption takes place.

Are you a rep? You can find more practical advice on a range of workplace issues in our support for reps section

Am I entitled to take statutory adoption leave?
You have a statutory right to take 52 weeks of adoption leave if you are an employee, are the person adopting the child (If you are in a couple, only one parent – called the 'primary adopter' – can take adoption leave) and have notified the adoption agency that you agree to the placement of the child with you and you have agreed the date of the placement.
What time limits do I need to consider in taking adoption leave?
You must give your employer notice of your intention to take adoption leave within seven days of being notified by the adoption agency that a child will be placed in your care for adoption.
Can I return to the same job from adoption leave?
After returning from Ordinary Adoption Leave (the first six months of leave), you have the right to go back to the job you were doing before you went on leave. After returning from Additional Adoption Leave (the second six months of leave), you have the right to return to the same job unless your employer can demonstrate that it is not reasonably practicable to have kept that job open for you.
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