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Rights and conditions
24 January 2017
Children outside blowing bubbles
This page sets out your entitlements and responsibilities under UK legislation, as well as advice on returning to work and overseas adoptions.

Adoption leave

To be eligible for adoption leave you must have:

  • been continuously employed with your employer for at least 26 weeks by the week you are notified of having been matched with a child
  • been matched with a child to be placed with you by a UK adoption agency
  • agreed that the child should be placed with you and the date of placement
  • notified your employer when you want to take your adoption leave no more than seven days after you receive notification of the match.

Adoption pay

In addition to the requirements for adoption leave, to be eligible for adoption pay you must have:

  • notified your employer when you want to receive statutory adoption pay at least 28 days before you want the pay to begin
  • average weekly earnings above the earnings threshold of £112 per week, before tax.

Statutory adoption pay is 90 per cent of your average weekly earnings for six weeks, and then £139.58 per week or 90 per cent of your average weekly earnings if this is less for a further 33 weeks. Your average weekly earnings are based on your earnings for the two months prior to the week in which you are notified of being matched with a child for adoption.

Statutory adoption pay is treated as earnings and you will pay tax, national insurance and pension contributions as appropriate.

  • Teachers in Scotland are entitled to the same amount of adoption leave, but they are entitled to 13 weeks at full pay followed by 26 weeks of statutory adoption pay.
  • Teachers and lecturers in FE colleges are entitled to the minimum pay and leave is as described above, but should check their contracts carefully. A joint agreement on guidance for adoption leave in FE colleges has been published. The Association of Colleges recommends that FE colleges pay the adoption leave at the same rate as maternity pay.
  • Support staff and teachers in independent schools are entitled to the minimum pay and leave is as described above, but should check their contracts carefully.

Your responsibilities

There is no statutory requirement to inform your employer in writing of your intention to take adoption leave/pay. However, ATL recommends that you confirm arrangements in writing. You should inform your employer of the date you wish to start adoption leave/pay and the date the child is expected to be placed with you.

Your employer may request any of the following from you:

  • name and address of the adoption agency
  • date you were notified of being placed with the child
  • date of placement.

Within 28 days of notifying your employer of the start date of your adoption leave/pay, your employer should write to you to confirm the dates and inform you of the date you are expected to return to work.

Starting adoption leave

Your leave may start from the actual date of your child's placement, or a fixed date up to 14 days before the expected date of placement, but not later than the date of placement.

Once you have notified your employer of the date you wish to start adoption leave you will need to give 28 days' notice to vary this date. If the placement date changes you should inform your employer immediately and agree to change the start date of your adoption leave and pay.

During adoption leave

During adoption leave you remain an employee and have the same rights as other members of staff, with the exception of your pay.

Mothers who have a child placed for adoption can return to work for up to 10 days during their adoption leave if they wish. These 'keeping in touch' (KIT) days can be used to attend INSET or other continuing professional development (CPD) training.

You should be paid an appropriate daily rate for any work you undertake. If you are still entitled to receive statutory adoption pay, you will need to agree with your employer whether any statutory adoption pay is deducted.

If you decide to undertake work over and above the 10-day limit, then any statutory adoption pay you are entitled to will cease.

If you undertake work for an employer other than the one paying you adoption pay during your paid adoption leave, your entitlement to adoption pay will finish and will not be reinstated.

Returning to work

There is no requirement for you to inform your employer if you return on the agreed date. If you wish to amend this date you will need to inform your employer, giving at least four weeks' notice.

If you are ill at the end of your adoption leave, then you are entitled to sick leave providing you have a doctor's certificate.

Overseas adoptions

Although identical benefits apply to adoptions from overseas, there are a few differences in procedure.

There is a three-stage notification process, as follows:

  • you must inform your employer of the date you receive notification of matching and the date the child is expected to enter the UK, within 28 days of receiving the official notification
  • you must give your employer at least 28 days' notice of your intended start date for adoption leave/pay along with a copy of your official notification of placement
  • you must give your employer evidence of the date the child entered the UK (such as copy of plane ticket, entry clearance document), within 28 days of the date of entry.

ATL offers a special membership package for members who are about to go on adoption leave and/or plan to take a break from teaching in order to raise a family. Please contact our membership department on 020 7782 1602.