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Blog  »  October 2021  »  Let's Talk About Family Leave - Blog
Oct 21

Posted by
Jennifer Patton

Let's Talk About Family Leave

With the covid-19 lockdowns having made the adoption process more difficult and limiting the capability of social services to identify vulnerable cases, this has resulted in the number of adoptions in England alone having fallen by one-third over the past few years. This blog post rounds up the key employment law rights and entitlements that apply to adoptive parents:

Adoption, Paternity & Shared Parental Leave

When adopting, the couple must designate one parent as the (primary) adopter for the purposes of leave and pay entitlements. The adopter has an entitlement of to up to 52 weeks' statutory adoption leave which like maternity leave is a day-one right meaning there is no longer any qualifying period of service to avail of this leave. The other adopter is entitled to take statutory paternity leave and both adopters may be eligible to opt in to the shared parental leave scheme if they meet the qualifying conditions. The (primary) adopter must inform their employer of their intention to avail of their adoption leave in order to opt in to the shared parental leave scheme. If someone is adopting without a second parent, they are entitled to statutory adoption leave. During adoption leave, an employee is entitled to all terms and conditions of employment except terms that are related to pay.

Adoption leave can begin on the date a child is placed with the adopter or within 14 days before the date on which the child is expected to be placed. In the case of adopting more than one child as part of the same adoption arrangement, the employee cannot claim multiple adoption pay entitlements. 

Adoption leave and pay is available only to parents who adopt through an adoption agency. Employees who adopt a child on a "private" basis are not eligible for adoption leave or pay, or are step-parents who adopt their step-children.


Adoption leave and pay rights have also been extended to parents who enter into qualifying surrogacy arrangements. To qualify, parents must be eligible for a parental order in respect of the child. Parental order means that, along with meeting other conditions, one of the parents must have provided the genetic material that was used to create the embryo.

Dependants & Parental Leave

Dependant leave is available for an employee who needs to take time off work in an emergency or unexpected situation, in order to help a dependant, which, includes an adoptive child. An adoptive parent who has served at their company for over one year may also take parental leave to look after their child up to their 18th birthday. This entitlement is to a maximum of 18 weeks unpaid leave per child. The employee may take up to four weeks per year and it must be in blocks of one week at a time.

Related Articles:

The Buzz About Carer's Leave

Care Home Workers & Mandatory Vaccinations: The New Regulations

Posted in Family Leave


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