Written by: Lucy Raymond
My best friend Sally has decided to adopt a five-year-old child. The child, so she tells me, is a bit of a handful to say the least, as she comes from a complicated background. She will have to fit in with the rest of Sally’s young family, and I had to ask the question, how on earth was Sally going to find the time to integrate the new child into their lives?
Adoption leave and pay
Sally went on to tell me about Adoption Leave and Pay, which is similar to maternity leave. She will be entitled to 26 weeks standard adoption leave, which can be followed by a further 26 weeks of additional adoption leave. And even if multiple children are adopted as part of the same arrangement, only one period of leave is available.
This got me interested. I have often thought about adopting, but until I spoke to Sally, it had been nothing more than a hazy thought at the back of my mind. I had been put off investigating adoption because of my own working circumstances – adopting a child can be a joyful experience, but also potentially stressful and time-consuming. How could I introduce a new child to my home, and continue with my demanding career? Things just weren’t adding up, despite my strong desire to help a needy child have a new family and better life.
So I decided to do a little research, to find out whether adoption was feasible for my circumstances. If you’re still in two minds about the process, here’s some information on adoption leave, which could help sway your mind:
The legal minimum
Employees who wish to adopt are entitled to a statutory amount of adoption leave and pay, although some employers are generous enough to give more than the legal minimum. To find out, consult your HR department or staff handbook.
Are you eligible?
As you can expect, there are various criteria you must fulfil before you can take time off for adoption.
You can take adoption leave and pay if you have worked continuously at the same company for at least 26 weeks by the week you are matched with your adopted child.
You can take adoption leave if you are the adoptive parent of a newly-placed child.
You can take adoption leave if you adopt a child from overseas.
However, you cannot take leave if you are adopting a step-child, or if you are a foster carer adopting a child.
Maternity and paternity leave
It was interesting to learn that both parents are not entitled to adoption leave – even with same-sex couples, only one parent can take a period of leave. One parent must choose to take adoption leave, and the other must take paternity leave.
- Your employee rights should not be affected when you take adoption leave, and some employees are able to work up to 10 paid days during the leave period. These are called Keeping in Touch Days, although they are optional, and both employer and employee need to agree to them.
- You will also be entitled to any pay rises and improvements in your work terms and conditions during your leave, although pension contributions may stop if a period of leave is unpaid.
- Your holidays will continue to accrue, and you can take any holidays you’ve built up before or after your leave.
- Your redundancy rights remain the same, and if your position should be terminated while you are on adoption leave, you still have the right to be offered any suitable alternative job.
Sally’s child arrives next week, and I shall be watching eagerly to see how things pan out. I’m looking forward to meeting the new addition to her family as it may be the encouragement I need to start my own adoption process…