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

Common
questions
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 primary adopter of the child 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.
When can I take adoption leave?
Your leave can start on the day the child is expected to be placed with you, a specific number of days after the child has been placed with you, or on a pre-determined date.
How much statutory adoption pay will l receive?
Under the statutory scheme, you will receive a maximum of 39 weeks of statutory adoption pay. For the first six weeks, you'll be paid 90% of normal earnings, for the remaining 33 weeks, a flat rate of £140.98 per week (or 90% of normal earnings if less),with the remaining 13 weeks unpaid.
What happens if my planned adoption placement is disrupted or terminated?
If your adoption placement is disrupted during adoption leave – for example, because it is terminated or because the child to be adopted dies – you're entitled to remain on adoption leave and continue receiving adoption pay for up to eight weeks after the week that the disruption occurs, although not beyond the original end date of the adoption leave.