Adoption leave and pay

This guidance is intended for employees who are the adopting parents and their managers and sets out the adoption leave and pay entitlements. 

An employee in the context of this guidance is an individual who holds a University contract of employment with the Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Oxford and therefore, has entitlement to University employment benefits.  

It is essential that you read all the guidance in these adoption leave pages. 

There are differences between adoption leave (which all primary adopters are entitled to) and adoption pay (for which there are qualifying criteria). 

In common with all the University's family leave provision this is a 'day one' benefit.  This means that any employee who has started work with the University before commencing adoption leave, and who intends to return to work after their adoption leave, will qualify for the University’s enhanced contractual benefits.  

Overview of adoption leave 

Adoption leave and pay allows one member of an adoptive couple, the one who will have the primary care responsibility for the child or children, to take time off work when their new child or children start to live with them. The purpose of the adoption leave is to allow the parent to bond with, and care for, their new child or children. 

Eligible employees are entitled to up to 52 weeks' statutory adoption leave (regardless of how long they have worked for the University). It is up to the employee to decide how much of that adoption leave entitlement they take, but the law requires that a minimum of two weeks' leave must be taken immediately following the placement of the child. This is known as compulsory adoption leave. Where a couple are adopting jointly they can choose which of them will take adoption leave and pay, and the other (regardless of gender) may take 'paternity' leave and pay. Parents may also be eligible to take Shared Parental Leave, subject to meeting eligibility criteria. 

Overview of adoption pay 

There are two types of adoption pay:  

  • Statutory adoption pay (SAP) is a benefit paid by the state for up to 39 weeks, subject to eligibility criteria. SAP is paid via an employer's payroll.

  • Contractual adoption pay is pay which an employer can offer, over and above the statutory rate. The University’s contractual adoption pay scheme is exceptionally generous offering up to 26 weeks leave at the rate of full pay. During this period any SAP to which the employee is eligible is considered to form part of the payment (it is not paid in addition to full pay).  

The notification requirements and all other entitlements and obligations on the employee and their department, before, during and after their adoption leave are outlined in the relevant sections in this guidance.