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Adoption and surrogacy leave guidance for employees

How we can guide and support you if you are a member of staff wishing to adopt or become the parent of a surrogate child.

Before you go on adoption leave

This web page provides guidance only and should be read in conjunction with the adoption and surrogacy leave policy.

Letting your manager and HR know

If you are thinking of adopting a child, it's important that you let your manager know at an early stage so they can start planning for the expected absence at the earliest opportunity. You can agree with your manager when you wish to share this information more widely.

Alternatively, you can discuss your intentions with your HR Advisor, who will be able to provide initial guidance.

What you need to do

If you are intending to adopt one or more children, you will need to complete an adoption leave application form and send it to your manager for signature. You will then need to forward the signed form to your HR Advisor within seven days of being matched with a child, with the following details:

  • the ‘date of placement’ – when the child is expected to be placed with you
  • the date on which you would like to start your adoption leave
  • a 'matching certificate' provided by the adoption agency

Once your HR Advisor has received this information, they will write to you to confirm your leave arrangements and will liaise with Payroll who will confirm your pay during adoption leave.

If you are on a fixed-term contract and your contract is due to expire while you are on adoption leave or prior to the completion of three months' work on return, you should contact your manager and HR Advisor for guidance before the contract end date.

If the post is funded by a grant, you should contact your supervisor or grant holder and HR Advisor at the earliest opportunity to discuss payment of your salary during adoption leave. Some sponsors have a policy to extend a grant to cover adoption leave.

When can you start adoption leave

The earliest you may start your adoption leave is 14 days before the child is placed with you for adoption and no later than the day the child is place with you for adoption. The HR Advisor will confirm in writing within 28 days of receiving your application form your adoption leave start and end dates.

Adoption leave can start the day of the birth or the day after. You must tell your manager and HR at least 15 weeks before the baby is due that you intend to take adoption leave.

For intended parents following surrogacy, more information is available from ACAS advice & guidance and the government website.

Time off for appointments

If you are the primary adopter, you can take paid time off for up to five adoption appointments (for example with the adoption agency or social worker) once you have been accepted as adoptive parents. If you are the secondary adopter, you will be entitled to take unpaid time off for up to two appointments. This will be during the period between being told that you are accepted and the 'matching' confirmation. Please give your manager as much notice as possible of appointments and be prepared to provide evidence of appointments.

Time off for appointments for intended parents following surrogacy

As an intended parent following surrogacy, you will be entitled to two unpaid antenatal appointments to enable you to accompany the birth mother.

Other things to consider

Annual leave

You will continue to accrue annual leave, bank and statutory holidays and discretionary days during your adoption leave, in accordance with your leave entitlements within your contract of employment. You can calculate your entitlement to annual leave by using the holiday calculator.

You should plan your annual leave around your adoption leave with your manager. Annual leave can be taken at any time outside of the adoption leave period, including directly before or after your adoption leave period.


The government operates a Tax Free Childcare scheme, which is a scheme to help towards the cost of childcare for working families. If you already use childcare vouchers at the same time as Tax-Free Childcare, over time Tax-Free Childcare will replace the childcare voucher scheme arranged directly by the University.

Family Friendly working

  • Flexible Working – If you are considering changing your working pattern or hours of work on return from adoption leave, you can make a request via the Flexible Working & Leave policy
  • Westwood Nursery – You may wish to apply for a place at the University’s campus-based nursery. If you secure a place, you will also be eligible to join a salary sacrifice scheme NurseryPlus.

During your adoption leave


During your adoption leave the University will maintain all your contractual rights except pay.

There are two types of adoption pay:

Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP):

We pay this money to you on behalf of the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) for up to 39 weeks.

  • The first dix weeks of SAP are paid at the higher SAP rate which is 90% of earnings before tax
  • The next 33 weeks are paid at the lower SAP rate or 90% of average weekly earnings
  • The remaining 13 weeks are unpaid leave.

To receive SAP from the University, you need at least 26 weeks’ continuous service up to and including the week the adoption agency tells you that you have been matched with a child for adoption. In addition, your average weekly earnings in the eight weeks up to and including ‘the qualifying week’ (this is the 8th week before the child is placed for adoption) must be at least equivalent to the lower earnings limit for Class 1 National Insurance contributions. You can check your entitlement to SAP via the government adoption calculator.

Occupational Adoption Pay (OAP):

This is additional adoption pay which the University will pay you if you have been continuously employed by the University for at least 52 weeks at the date you are matched with a child. You are also required to return to work at the University, in a full or part time capacity, for at least three months following adoption leave.

OAP is paid as follows:

  • The first 8 weeks of SAP are topped up to full pay by OAP
  • The following 18 weeks are paid at half pay (this is in addition to SAP up to a maximum of full pay)
  • The next 13 weeks are paid at the lower OAP rate (or 90% if your average weekly earnings are less)
  • The remaining 13 weeks are unpaid leave.

You will not normally be able to qualify for SAP or OAP if you are becoming a special guardian.

Adopting from overseas

Please consult your HR Advisor if you are adopting from overseas, as the rules may vary.


If you are a member of USS or LGPS, your contributions will be maintained in full for any period you are in receipt of pay, whether contractual or SAP. Any unpaid adoption leave is treated as suspended membership and will not count as pensionable service. Please contact the Pensions Officer for further information.

Annual increments

Where applicable, you will be entitled to receive the normal annual increment on your pay scale in accordance with your contract of employment, to take effect from your normal increment date.

Continuous service

Where you exercise your right to return to work, all periods of time that you take off work as adoption leave count as continuous service for calculating any service-related statutory rights.

Contact during your adoption leave

It's important that you keep up to date with any developments at work. You should discuss arrangements for reasonable contact during your adoption leave with your manager.

You can also take up to 10 days' paid work before your adoption leave ends. These are called Keeping in Touch (KIT) days. You can use a KIT day at any stage from the start of your adoption leave. If you use a KIT day while on full pay, no additional payment will be made. If you work a KIT day while on half pay or SAP only, your pay will be 'topped up' so you receive pay for the hours you worked.

If you work for less than a full day, this will count as one KIT day, although payment will be for the actual hours worked. KIT days are optional and can only take place by agreement between both you and your manager. You should complete the KIT days form and submit this to Payroll. It is recommended that you and your manager retain copies of all KIT day payment forms submitted to Payroll, so you can keep track of the number of days you have taken.

After your adoption leave

Return to work

You should return to work after 52 weeks adoption leave, unless you have confirmed an earlier return date.

If you return to work within the first 26 weeks of your adoption leave, you have the right to return to the same post. If you return after 26 weeks, you will normally return to the same post. If this is not feasible, you are entitled to return to a post on the same terms and conditions that applied before your adoption leave commenced.

Your manager will seek to agree a return to work plan with you in advance or your return date.

Returning earlier than expected

If you decide to return to work earlier than you had initially indicated, you should give your manager and HR Advisor at least eight weeks’ notice in writing of the new return date. By not doing so, the University could decide to postpone your return for up to eight weeks or until your adoption leave entitlement comes to an end.

Choosing not to return to work

If you decide not to return to work at the end of your adoption leave, you should give your manager written notice as per your contract before your adoption leave ends and follow the University Leaver guidance.

Further information

Contact your HR Advisor for further guidance and information on additional resources.

Associated policies include:

Adoption leave application form

Download the application form

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