Adoptive parents’ rights are to be brought in line with those of mothers and fathers taking maternity and paternity leave.

• The current position is that qualifying employees may take up to 52 weeks adoption leave and may be entitled to 39 weeks of statutory adoption pay.

• With effect from 5th April 2015, the Paternity and Adoption Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2014 will remove the 26 week qualifying period to be eligible for this leave and brings it in line with maternity leave eligibility requirements. This means employees will accrue this right to adoption leave from their first day of employment.

• Current rights to adoption leave contained in the Paternity and Adoption Leave Regulations 2002 will also be extended to individuals fostering a child under the “Fostering for Adoption” scheme.

• Employees who are adopting a child from outside the UK will be entitled to shared parental leave and pay by virtue of The Shared Parental Leave and Paternity and Adoption Leave (Adoptions from Overseas) Regulations 2014 and the Statutory Shared Parental Parental Pay (Adoption from Overseas) Regulations 2014.

• From 5th April 2015, eligible employees will have the statutory right for employees who are parents by adoption to take Shared Parental Leave in the first year after adoption of a child. A primary adopter will be able to end their maternity leave or adoption leave or commit to ending it at a future date and share the untaken leave with the other parent as Shared Parental Leave. This will enable the primary adopter to return to work before the end of their leave without sacrificing the rest of the leave that would otherwise be available to them.

• The Children and Families Act 2014 brings statutory adoption pay into line with statutory maternity pay by setting it at 90% of average weekly earnings for the first six weeks.

• From 5 April 2015 the rate of statutory adoption pay is increasing to £139.58 per week.

• Surrogate parents will also become eligible for adoption leave. This leave will be available to employees who are, or expect to be the parents of a child under a parental order where the child’s expected week of birth begins on or after 5th April 2015.

Time off work
• From 5th April 2015, employees and certain agency workers who are proposing to adopt a child or children on their own or jointly with another person, will have the right to take time off during working hours to attend adoption appointments.

• The main adopter will be able to take paid time off for up to five adoption appointments. The secondary adopter will be entitled to take unpaid time off for up to two appointments.

Employers need to make sure that they have a written Adoption Policy in place and that existing Staff Handbooks are updated to include this and to ensure that existing written Maternity and Paternity policies cross refer to this.

If your business requires any HR & Employment Law advice, assistance and support whether this is with Adoption policies or Maternity, Paternity or Shared Parental Leave or Pay policies, procedures or disputes, contact Farleys Commercial HR & Employment Law team on 0845 050 1958, alternatively please complete an online enquiry form.