Before the adoption

Employees are encouraged to share the news of their plans to adopt a child with their department as soon as possible so that the department knows that the employee may require time off work to deal with issues relating to the adoption process. It will also help the department to plan ahead and make arrangements for covering the period while the employee is on leave. 

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In order to qualify for and to claim adoption leave and pay, an employee must notify their department within seven days of the date that they are matched with a child, of: 

  • the date that the employee was notified of having been matched with the child; and 

  • the date on which the child is expected to be placed for adoption or, if this has already happened, the actual date of the placement; and 

  • the name and address of the adoption agency; and 

  • confirmation that the employee is the primary carer for the child; and 

  • confirmation that the employee has chosen to receive Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP) (rather than statutory paternity pay) at least 28 days before the date they want it to start, or as soon as is reasonably practicable (notice can be given earlier alongside notice of the start of adoption leave). 

As soon as an employee informs their department that they have been matched for adoption, the Departmental Administrator (or equivalent) should meet with them to discuss and complete the Adoption Leave Plan (which can be downloaded from the right hand side of this page), which is used to collect the above information and other details relating to the proposed adoption leave period. If the Adoption Leave Plan is completed fully by the employee and the department this will ensure that the notification requirements are met. 

The employee should advise their department whether they intend to return to work after the adoption. If they do intend to return to work they should notify their department of the date on which they wish to begin their adoption leave. Within 28 days of completing the Adoption Leave Plan the department should confirm the employee's return to work date to them in writing (if the employee intends to return to work). If the employee does not intend to return to work after the adoption, their department should outline their entitlement to statutory adoption leave and pay

Additionally, the employee and the department should discuss, explore and/or agree on the following: 

  • 'Keeping in Touch' (KIT) days arrangements 

  • arrangements for staying in touch during adoption leave 

  • how the work will be covered in the employee’s absence, and any other concerns or issues, eg issues related to externally-funded contracts 

  • how the employee’s employment benefits are affected during a period of adoption leave 

  • the option (if eligible) of using the provisions under the Shared Parental Leave (SPL). Both, the employee and their partner will need to meet the eligibility criteria for the scheme, and additional processes will need to be followed. To read more about SPL, including the eligibility criteria, please go to Shared Parental Leave.


An adopter can choose to begin their leave and pay on either: 

  • the date on which the child is placed with them for adoption; or 

  • a pre-determined date no earlier than 14 days before the expected date of placement, and no later than the expected date of placement. 

If the department and employee fill in the Adoption Leave Plan then this will satisfy the notification requirements in this respect. 

Once an employee has notified the department of the date they wish to start their adoption leave, they can change this date as long as they notify their department of the new start date by whichever is the earlier of either 28 days before the date they originally intended to start their leave or 28 days before the new date they want to start their leave. 

If it is not reasonably practicable for the employee to give this much notice (for example if the date of the placement of the child changes unexpectedly) then the employee should give their department as much notice as possible. The notification does not have to be in writing unless the department requests it. 


Once an employee has provided the necessary notice of the intended start date of their leave, the department should in turn notify the employee of the date on which the leave will end. This will normally be 52 weeks (one year) from the start of adoption leave. The Adoption Leave Plan and letter can be used for this purpose (found on the right-hand side). 

The department should confirm with the employee the end date of the adoption leave within 28 days of the notification unless the employee has since changed the date the leave will start. In that case, the department must notify the employee of the end date within 28 days of the start of the leave. 


The primary adopter can take paid time off for up to five adoption appointments. 

The secondary adopter is also be entitled to take unpaid time off for up to two appointments. 

For practical reasons, the detailed operation of the adoption scheme differs slightly in cases of adopting a child from overseas. The department should contact their HR Business Partner if an employee is adopting a child from overseas. Further guidance will then be provided on a case-by-case basis.