Guide

Adoption leave and pay

Adoption leave: when it can begin

When an employee can choose to start their Statutory Adoption Leave depends on whether they are adopting a child from within the UK or from overseas, or are an intended parent of a surrogacy arrangement.

UK adoptions: when adoption leave can begin

An employee can choose to begin their Statutory Adoption Leave (and Statutory Adoption Pay) on either of the following:

  • the date on which the child is placed with them for adoption
  • 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 they have chosen to start their leave on the day the child is placed with them and they are at work on that day, the period of Statutory Adoption Leave and Statutory Adoption Pay can start on the next day. The leave can start on any day of the week.

If the date of placement changes before the employee begins their Statutory Adoption Leave, they should:

  • discuss the situation with you as soon as possible
  • give the appropriate notice to change the start date - however, you can accept less notice

If you are unable to agree about the dates of Statutory Adoption Leave, contact the Labour Relations Agency (LRA) Helpline on Tel 03300 555 300.

Overseas adoptions: when adoption leave can begin

Employees may choose to start their Statutory Adoption Leave from either the date the child enters Northern Ireland or a fixed date (as notified to you) no later than 28 days after the date the child enters Northern Ireland.

The adoption leave can start on any day of the week.

Statutory Adoption Leave cannot be used to cover the period employees spend travelling overseas to arrange the adoption or visit the child. You could, however, allow the employee to take annual leave or unpaid leave for these purposes.

Surrogacy cases: when adoption leave can begin

Adoption leave will commence on the day the child is born; but if the employee is at work on that day then leave will commence on the next day.

Statutory Adoption Leave: changing the start date

This does not apply to surrogacy cases.

The employee can change their intended Statutory Adoption Leave start date as long as they notify you of the new start date. They must do this by whichever is the earlier of:

  • 28 days before their original Statutory Adoption Leave start date
  • 28 days before their new Statutory Adoption Leave start date

If it is not reasonably practicable for them to give you this much notice, they should give you as much notice as possible.

You may request this notification in writing.

See the Invest Northern Ireland Employers’ Handbook guidance on adoption leave and pay (PDF, 48K).