Unless the employee has notified you otherwise, the date on which they return to work will normally be the first working day 52 weeks after their Statutory Adoption Leave began.
Adoption leave: returning to work before the planned return date
If an employee wishes to return to work before the planned return date (usually the date you confirmed to them before they went on leave), they must give you notice at least eight weeks before their new return date - although you can accept less or no notice .
For example, if an employee was due to return to work after 52 weeks' Statutory Adoption Leave on 1 August, but then decided to return to work after 39 weeks of leave on 9 May, they would need to give you eight weeks' notice of the new date, ie by 14 March.
Note that if you didn't provide appropriate notification of when their adoption leave should end, the employee does not have to give you eight weeks' notice - see UK adoptions: notification and confirmation of adoption leave.
If the employee attempts to return to work earlier than planned without giving you notice, you can postpone their return until after the eight weeks have elapsed.
However, you may not postpone their return to a date later than the end of their 52-week Statutory Adoption Leave period.
If the employee still comes to work during the period of postponement, you do not have to pay them.
Adoption leave: returning to work after the planned return date
If an employee wishes to return to work after the planned return date, they should give you notice of this new date of return at least eight weeks before the original planned return date.
For example, if an employee was due to return to work at the end of their Ordinary Adoption Leave (ie after 26 weeks) on 1 October but - while on leave - decides that they wish to take their full entitlement of 52 weeks, they must notify you of this eight weeks before 1 October, ie by 6 August.
Employees who do not wish to return to work after adoption leave
An employee who does not wish to return to work after their Statutory Adoption Leave must give you notice of this. This will be the usual notice of resignation as required by their employment contract.
However, as long as they specify the date on which they wish to terminate the contract (eg the date they were due back at work after Statutory Adoption Leave), their adoption leave continues.
In addition, if they terminate their contract before the end of their Statutory Adoption Pay period, you must continue to pay them Statutory Adoption Pay, provided they have not started work for another employer.
Employees who don't return are not required to pay back any statutory adoption pay they have received. See adoption pay.