Adoption leave and pay

UK adoptions: notification and confirmation of adoption leave


To qualify for Statutory Adoption Leave, an employee should notify you no more than seven days after they are notified of having been matched with a child:

  • that they intend to take Statutory Adoption Leave
  • when they intend to start it
  • the date the child is expected to be placed with them for adoption

They can tell you earlier than this if they choose.

If it is not reasonably practicable for them to meet this deadline, they should notify you as soon as possible.

If the employee has not given you the correct notice, you can delay the start of their Statutory Adoption Leave (and pay) until they give the correct notice. However, you cannot postpone the start of leave beyond the date of placement.

You may request this notification in writing.

Many employees will find it convenient to give notice of the date for the start of Statutory Adoption Pay at the same time. The date for the start of Statutory Adoption Pay can be the same as the start date for Statutory Adoption Leave. See adoption pay.

An employee can change the start date of their leave - see when adoption leave can begin.

Evidence of adoption

Employees do not have to prove that they are eligible for Statutory Adoption Leave unless you ask them to. However, they do need to provide evidence to prove eligibility for Statutory Adoption Pay - see adoption pay.

If you choose to ask an employee to prove their eligibility for Statutory Adoption Leave, they must give you the documentation they were given by the adoption agency, which must contain the following:

  • the name and address of the agency
  • the date on which the employee was notified that he or she had been matched with the child
  • the date on which the agency expects to place the child with the employee

Encouraging early notification

If the employee notifies you as early as possible of their intention to take Statutory Adoption Leave, you can start making arrangements for covering the period while they are away.

Giving the employee confirmation of the end date of their Statutory Adoption Leave

After receiving their notification, you must in turn notify the employee of the date on which their Statutory Adoption Leave will end. This will normally be 52 weeks from the intended start of their Statutory Adoption Leave. This will inform the employee of when he or she has to return to work. Download our model adoption leave acknowledgement letter (DOC, 136K).

You must give the employee this information within 28 days of their notification, unless the employee has since changed the date their leave will start. In that case, you must notify them of the end date within 28 days of the start of their leave.

If you fail to give the employee proper notification and the employee subsequently doesn't return to work on time, you cannot discipline them.

In addition, if they want to change their return dates, they may not be obliged to comply with the notice requirements.

Note that an employee may choose to take less than 52 weeks' Statutory Adoption Leave by notifying you of this:

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