Adoption leave and surrogacy

Adoption Leave


If you are taking time off to adopt a child or have a child through a surrogacy arrangement you may be eligible for statutory adoption leave of up to 52 weeks and you may get adoption pay or Shared Parental Leave and Pay.

Adoption leave consists of 26 weeks of Ordinary Adoption Leave and 26 weeks of Additional Adoption Leave. After OAL you have the right to return to your original job and after AAL you have the right to return to your job or a suitable alternative if that is not available, for instance, the post is redundant. Only one person in a couple can take adoption leave; the other partner can take paternity leave. Adoption leave entitles you to paid time off work for up to five adoption appointments after you have been matched with a child.

While you are on leave you have a right to any pay rises you would have got had you been at work and to holiday [you continue to accrue this in the normal way].

Adoption leave can start up to 14 days before the child starts living with you if it is a UK adoption or when the child arrives in the UK or within 28 days of arrival for overseas adoptions. For surrogacy, it can start the day the child is born or the day after.


To qualify for Statutory Adoption Leave, you have to satisfy three criteria – you must be an employee, give the correct notice [you must inform them how much leave you want, your start date and the date the child will be placed with your within seven days of being matched with a child] and give proof of the adoption or surrogacy if your employer asks for it. Your employer must confirm your leave start and end dates within 28 days.

To qualify for Statutory Adoption Pay you will need to:

  • have worked continuously for your employer for at least 26 weeks by the week you are matched with a child
  • provide proof of adoption or surrogacy including in writing your name and address and that of the agency,  proof of the match date – for example, the matching certificate and proof of the date of placement such as a letter from the agency
  • earn at least an average of £113 a week (before tax), give your employer at least 28 days’ notice [they in turn must confirm in 28 days how much you will get and when it will start and stop]. If they turn down your request they must do so within seven days and explain why, using the correct form [SAP1].

Statutory adoption pay is paid for 39 weeks and is calculated at 90% of your average weekly earnings for the first six weeks followed by the statutory rate of  £140.98 or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is lower) for the next 33 weeks. It can be paid weekly or monthly in the same way as your normal wages.  Tax and National Insurance will be deducted.

Overseas adoptions and surrogacy

If  you are adopting from overseas or having a child through a surrogacy arrangement you will also need to provide proof of the relevant UK authority’s official notification that you are allowed to adopt as well as of the date the child arrived in the UK, such as a plane ticket.

For overseas adoptions, you will need to tell your employer the date of your official notification, the estimated date the child will arrive within 28 days of that arrival, the actual date of arrival [also within 28 days] and give your employer 28 days’ notice of when you want to start your leave and how long you will be on leave.

For surrogacy arrangements, you need to tell your employer the due date of your baby and when you want your leave to start by at least 15 weeks before the due date.

Your employer may also ask for a written statement, witnessed by a lawyer, to confirm that you have applied or will apply for a parental order in the six months after the child’s birth.

Changing leave dates

You must tell your employer within 28 days if the date of placement or arrival in the UK of your child changes and you must give your employer at least eight weeks’ notice if you want to change your return to work date.


You will not qualify for Statutory Adoption Leave or Pay if you arrange a private adoption, become a special guardian or kinship carer or adopt a family member or stepchild.

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