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Employees have the right to take up to 52 weeks adoption leave from the first day of their employment so long as they meet certain criteria. These require the employee to give the correct notice and provide documents such as proof of the adoption, if the employer asks. The notice has to contain how much leave they want to take, the start date of the leave and the date the child will be placed with them and must be given within 7 days of being matched with a child, or as soon as possible if this isn’t achievable. The employee can choose to begin their leave from the date the child starts living with them or up to 14 days before this.
Employees who are jointly adopting a child can choose who is classed as the main adopter or secondary adopter. The main adopter takes the adoption leave and the other may be entitled to take paternity leave. The main adopter has the right to take paid time off for up to five adoption appointments whereas the secondary adopter is only entitled to unpaid time off for up to two.
Employees who take adoption leave may also be entitled to up to 39 weeks of Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP). The first 6 weeks are paid at 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings and the remaining 33 weeks are paid at the lower of the statutory rate, currently £140.98, or 90% of the average weekly earnings. The entitlement to SAP depends on the employee having 26 weeks of continuous employment with the employer by the week they are matched with the child and whether they have earned an average wage of £113 per week (before tax), as well as giving the correct notice and proof of the adoption.
Employers can choose to run a company adoption scheme which gives more leave or pay than the statutory amount, but, they cannot give less. Schemes should be included in the employee’s contract of employment or in the employee handbook.