Adopting parents need time for the formalities of the adoption process, and for getting to know the child they have adopted.
Rights to paid time off work are therefore crucially important. The government is keen to encourage adoption and introduced new rights to paid time off in 2003.
There are only about 5000 adoptions a year compared with 700,000 births. That means that only a small number will apply to their employer for this type of leave.
This fact sheet gives a brief summary of your legal rights. You can use the contacts and resources section to find out more.
The statutory right to adoption leave and pay is to take 26 weeks “ordinary” adoption leave followed by a further 26 weeks “additional” adoption leave.
Statutory adoption pay is available for 39 weeks at the lower of 90% of average earnings or £117.18 - the same rate as SMP. Unlike maternity pay, there is no higher rate for the first six weeks and no alternative assistance for parents who earn less than £90 per week.
To be eligible for statutory adoption leave you must:
You can choose to take the leave starting:
You must give the correct notice to your employer:
The employer must write to you within 28 days setting out the start date they expect you to return. You must also:
If the placement is disrupted leave continues for a further eight weeks (or until the end of leave if that is sooner).
During additional adoption leave some contractual conditions continue. Pay continues after 39 weeks only if agreed by your employer.
You will accrue your four weeks paid holiday under the Working Time Regulations, but will only accrue contractual holiday if this is agreed with your employer.
The 2006 Work and Families Act introduced “Keeping in Touch” days. These are intended to help employees stay in touch with their job during their maternity leave without affecting their entitlement to maternity pay.
You and your employer are entitled to use up to 10 days for this purpose, but there is no obligation on either of you to do so. They can be used for training or attending events as well as for carrying out the usual duties of your job.
You have the right to return to the same job after ordinary adoption leave, and after additional adoption leave the right to return to the same job unless that is not reasonably practicable in which case to a suitable similar job.
If a redundancy situation arises during your adoption leave you must be given first refusal of a suitable alternative job where one is available.
There is protection against dismissal or unfair treatment that results from you taking or claiming adoption leave.
Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) members are likely to be covered by an agreement that gives them better rights than this statutory minimum. Many agreements give 26 weeks on full pay (mirroring maternity leave), usually for those with a year’s service.
In many areas the leave can be taken more flexibly than under the statutory scheme, for example by allowing some paid time off before placement in order to attend meetings and hearings as part of the adoption process.
Flexible working can be requested by parents of children up to age 6 (16 from April 2009) disabled children up to age 18 and carers subject to certain definitions and qualifying service.
Maternity leave allows a new mother to take a period of paid leave when she has a baby.
Parental leave is a right for parents of a young or adopted or disabled child to take a period of unpaid leave to care for the child.
Paternity leave is the right for a new father or partner of a new mother or adopter to take a period off at the time of the birth or adoption.
Time off for dependants is a right to take a reasonable period of time (usually a few days) to deal with an emergency involving a dependant.
These are your statutory rights. Your employer may have agreed better contractual rights, so check with your PCS rep or branch secretary.
This factsheet is available as a hard copy from PCS Equality Department, (T) 020 7801 2683; E mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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