Adoption leave and pay

Adoption leave and pay

New provisions for adoption leave and pay come into effect from 5 April 2015. The intention of the new regulations is to bring adoption leave and pay more closely in line with provisions for parents who have birth children. 

These provisions support the Government’s reform agenda in relation to adoption – to attract more adopters to provide permanent homes for children waiting in the care system. 

For adopters, the new regulations will apply to children placed for adoption on or after 5th April 2015. Statutory adoption leave and pay can start up to 14 days before the expected date of placement, and must start at the latest on the day the child is placed. All provisions on leave and pay apply only for the first year of the child’s placement and entitlement ceases on the first anniversary of placement. 


A person adopting a child is entitled to take 26 weeks of ordinary adoption leave and 26 weeks of additional adoption leave. This is now a right that they have from the first day of their employment. This only relates to one of the adopters – the primary adopter or main carer. The current position (prior to 5th April 2015) is that the primary adopter had to be employed for a qualifying period before being eligible for adoption leave. 

In addition the primary adopter is entitled to ‘time off’ to attend adoption appointments – although this is limited to approximately 3 appointments.

In relation to paternity leave, if one of the adopting couple elects to exercise their right to statutory adoption leave (elects to be the primary carer), the other may take one or two weeks of paid paternity leave (regardless of gender).However to be eligible for paternity leave, you do need to have worked for your employer for 26 weeks and cannot have either;

  • taken statutory paid time off for adoption appointments or
  • have taken and shared parental leave.

Shared Parental Leave

Some adoptive parents may prefer to share their entitled adoption leave – perhaps taking time together or sequentially. The total amount of time taken by both adopters cannot be more than fifty two weeks. There are a number of criteria that adopting couples need to fulfil to be eligible for shared parental leave.


From 5 April 2015, statutory adoption pay will be paid at 90% of the adopter’s average weekly earnings for the first 6 weeks, followed by a flat rate of £139.58 or 90% of earnings, whichever is the lower, for a further 33 weeks. An adopter is only eligible for adoption pay if;

i. They have worked for their employer for 26 weeks and 

ii. Earn at least £111  per week as an average over the 8 weeks before a child is placed and

iii. Give their employer notice of claiming statutory adoption pay and 

iv. Given their employers proof of the placement of the child (matching certificate).