Guide

Adoption leave and pay

Returning to work from adoption leave

An employee is entitled to return to the same job that they had before going on statutory adoption leave (SAL) if they take only ordinary adoption leave (OAL), ie the initial 26-week period of leave. The rules are different where an employee takes all or some of their additional adoption leave (AAL), ie the second 26-week period of leave.

Return to work after OAL

An employee who returns to work during, or at the end of, their OAL is entitled to return to the same job on the same terms and conditions of employment as if they had not been absent unless a redundancy situation has arisen.

If you prevent an employee returning to work, they may make a complaint of unfair dismissal to an industrial tribunal.

If they return to work but you don't give them their old job back, they may do either of the following:

  • raise a grievance with you, which may result in an industrial tribunal claim for detrimental treatment if you fail to address it
  • resign and claim constructive dismissal - the employee may raise a grievance about this with you first - see handling grievances

See adoption leave and protection against detriment or dismissal.

Return to work after AAL

An employee who returns to work during or at the end of their AAL period is entitled to return to the same job on the same terms and conditions of employment as if they had not been absent.

However, if it is not reasonably practicable for you to let them return to their old job, you should offer them a job:

  • that is both suitable and appropriate for them
  • on terms and conditions that are no less favourable than those for their original job

If you offer the employee a job that fulfils the criteria above and they unreasonably refuse it, they will have effectively resigned.

If you offer the employee a job that doesn't fulfil the criteria, they may do either of the following:

  • resign and claim constructive dismissal - the employee may raise a grievance about this with you first
  • raise a grievance with you, which may result in an industrial tribunal claim for detrimental treatment if you fail to address it

You should try to consult with employees during their SAL about any proposed changes to their job in preparation for their return. See the page in this guide on contact and work during adoption leave.

Return to work where parental leave is taken immediately after SAL

Employees who qualify for parental leave may take some of this leave immediately following the end of their SAL.

An employee is entitled to return to the same job as before if the parental leave meets both of the following conditions:

  • it is for four weeks or less
  • it isn't preceded by any AAL

If the parental leave period is longer than four weeks and/or is preceded by a period of AAL, the employee is treated as though they were returning to work after AAL.

See parental leave and time off for dependants.

Pay rises during SAL

An employee on SAL is entitled to benefit from any general improvements to the rate of pay, or other terms and conditions, which are introduced for their grade or class of work - as if they hadn't been away.

Flexible working requests

Providing they meet the qualifying criteria, an employee returning to work may make a request to work flexibly, eg to adjust their start or finish times, work from home or do part-time hours. Read more on flexible working - the law and best practice.