At work, you may wonder what to do when an employee is adopting a child.
Employees are legally entitled to take time off work to have a child. This is regardless of whether they are giving birth or adopting.
If you don’t provide adoption leave rights, you could face discrimination claims. These claims could lead to tribunal hearings, costly fees, and hefty business damages.
In this guide, discover what adoption leave is, which employees are entitled to it, and what laws you need to adhere to.
What is Adoption Leave?
Adoption leave is provided to employees who request time off when adopting a child. It also applies to those going through surrogacy arrangements.
This type of leave is an opportunity to build bonds and care for their child (or children).
Statutory adoption leave allows employees to take up to 52 weeks off work. The first half is known as ordinary adoption leave, while the other half is known as additional adoption leave.
What Does the Law Say on Adoption Leave?
Under The Paternity and Adoption Leave Regulations 2002, an employee is entitled to adoption leave if they meet the following conditions.
To qualify, they must:
- Be an employee.
- Give the correct notice – refer to your employee’s contract.
- Provide proof of adoption or surrogacy, if needed.
If adopting from overseas, your employee will need to sign a form for adopting a child.
How Much is Adoption Leave Pay?
Statutory adoption pay is provided for up to 39 weeks. The payment starts as soon as your employee takes adoption leave.
For the first six weeks of adoption leave, your employee will get 90% of their weekly earnings.
During the following 33 weeks, they will keep receiving the 90% payment or £151.97 per week, whichever one is lower.
Employees are entitled to adoption leave pay if they meet the following requirements:
- Worked for 26 weeks (up to the time they’re matched with their child).
- Earn £120 a week before tax.
- Give the correct amount of notice.
- Provide proof of the adoption or surrogacy.
Are There Any Exceptions?
An employee does not qualify for Statutory Adoption Leave or Pay if they:
- Have a private adoption.
- Adopt a stepchild.
- Adopt a family member.
- Become a special guardian.
You must inform them why they cannot get Statutory Adoption Pay. In this case, they may be able to contact their local council to see if they’re eligible for adoption pay.
Surrogacy Arrangement and Pay
A surrogacy arrangement is a practice where a person willingly carries a child for someone else. This is with the intention that the baby will be handed over at birth.
For an employee having a child through a surrogacy arrangement, they may be entitled to adoption leave and pay. But they must request to be the child’s legal parent within 6 months of the birth.
There are a few more requirements needed. They must also apply for a parental order and expect the order to be allowed.
If the employee is related to the child, they can opt for adoption leave and shared parental leave.
Returning to Work After Adoption Leave
Before your employee leaves, you must establish when they intend to return to work.
If your employee wants to change the date of their return, they must provide eight weeks’ notice. But this will be up to your discretion.
In some cases, an employee may decide not to return to work. Here, you need to refer to their contract to see how much notice they must give.
Can you change the job for your employee after adoption leave?
If an employee has taken 26 weeks’ adoption leave, they have the right to return to the same job.
But if they’ve taken more, this right still stands–unless you have a good reason for providing a different job.
The job speculations for the new job cannot be worse than the previous one. For example, it must not include:
- Lower pay and reduced adoption leave benefits.
- Reduced holiday entitlements.
- Decrease in position or seniority.
Can You Dismiss an Employee Returning from Adoption Leave?
You cannot dismiss or discriminate against an employee returning from adoption leave.
The employee could escalate unfair dismissal claims, leading to an employment tribunal hearing.
Get Advice on Adoption Leave with BrightHR
Every employee has the right to ask for adoption leave. Whether your employee is adopting a child or arranging a surrogacy, legal rules must be followed.
Neglecting your employee’s rights could lead to discrimination claims and if escalated, tribunal hearings. This could affect your business’ reputation and lead to costly compensation payments.
BrightHR can help you manage adoption leave with our HR software and assist you with any questions you may have.
If you need any advice on adoption leave, don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our experts.
Book in a free demo or give us a call on 0800 7832 806
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