Skip to main content

Adoption/Surrogacy Leave - Guidance for Managers

How to support a member of staff who wishes to adopt or is becoming a surrogate parent.


This web page provides guidance only and should be read in conjunction with the Adoption/Surrogacy Leave Policy

All staff are entitled to take up to 52 weeks Statutory Adoption Leave regardless of their length of service. Employees can choose to return to work before the full 52 weeks leave should they wish to do so. In the case of a couple jointly adopting a child, only one person in the couple can take adoption leave and they are known as the ‘primary adopter’.

Where a couple are adopting following surrogacy, they must either apply for a parental order or legally adopt the child. The following link provides more information on parental order and legal adoption of a surrogate child

One of the parents can be eligible for adoption leave and pay and the other can be eligible for paternity leave and pay. The couple must elect which of them will take adoption leave. An employee who takes adoption leave in these circumstances can curtail his or her adoption leave and take shared parental leave with the other parent, provided that both parents meet the relevant eligibility requirements.

You may wish to read and familiarise yourself with the Adoption/Surrogacy policy and the adoption guidance for employees to understand the rights and entitlements of your member of staff and what you need to do as their manager. Your HR Advisor will be happy to discuss what you need to consider and answer any questions you may have.

Before the employee's adoption leave begins

Timing of adoption leave

Adoption leave can start on the day the child is placed for adoption or up to 14 days earlier.

To make administration and planning as easy as possible, it is important that the employee discusses the timing of his or her adoption leave with you and the HR Advisor as early as possible in the process.

When your member of staff notifies you that they are considering adopting a child, it is important that you meet with them as soon as practical so that you can discuss with them when the adoption is likely to take place, how they wish to communicate this information more widely to the rest of the team and whether they will be the primary adopter. It is important that either the member of staff or you, as their manager, inform the Human Resources Advisor so that they can meet the employee to discuss the adoption policy and guidance with them.

Absence before adoption leave starts

Time off to attend adoption appointments - Employees who are adopting a child are entitled to take time off to attend adoption appointments.

If the employee is the ‘primary’ adopter they are entitled to take paid time off to attend up to five adoption appointments. Where an employee is part of a couple jointly adopting a child, the partner can elect to take unpaid time off to attend up to two adoption appointments.

The purpose of the appointment is to enable the employee and his/her partner to have contact with the child (for example, to bond with the child before the placement) and for any other purpose connected with the adoption (for example, to meet with the professionals involved in the care of the child).

The appointment must have been arranged by or at the request of the adoption agency. The time off must be taken before the date of the child's placement for adoption with the employee.

For the purpose of taking time off, as the manager, you will need to establish with your member of staff if they are the primary adopter and, if known, confirm the date(s) of the appointments so that cover can be put in place or work can be reallocated as necessary.

Employees who intend to apply for a parental order and expect to become the child's legal parents in a surrogacy situation have the right to unpaid time off work to accompany the birth mother for up to two antenatal appointments.

Confirming adoption dates

You should agree with your member of staff when they wish to start and end their adoption leave and sign their adoption leave application form. It is advisable to take a copy of this form for your records and ensure that your HR Advisor has also received a copy. Your HR Advisor will write to the employee to confirm adoption dates once the matching certificate has been issued by the adoption agency and will liaise with payroll, who will advise the employee of their adoption pay arrangements.

If the employee is on a fixed term contract and their contract is due to expire whilst they are on adoption leave or prior to the completion of 3 months work on their return, you should contact your HR Advisor in advance of the contract end date for guidance. You should follow the normal consultation process to investigate any possibility of an extension.

Considering Adoption Cover

Should the role of the employee need covering during the adoption leave period you need to do the following:

  1. Consider whether there are alternative means of covering the role or is like for like cover required

  2. Confirm the duration of the cover required

  3. Consider how the cover will be funded and identify costs and any shortfall of funds using the maternity/adoption leave calculator

  4. Consider whether the adoption role cover can be carried out as a secondment or as a development opportunity

  5. Raise a staff request form if cover is required providing a job description, organisation chart and confirmation of budget available from your finance manager

  6. Recruitment guidance is available here

Other things to consider

Annual Leave

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

You should discuss with your member of staff how they are planning to take their annual leave around their adoption leave and agree this with them. Annual leave can be taken at any time (outside of the adoption leave period), including directly prior to or directly following their adoption leave period.

If the employee’s adoption leave falls over two holiday leave year periods, if they have not exhausted their entitlement for that leave year, 36.5 hours will automatically be carried forward into the next leave year. As their manager, you will need to make an adjustment on iTrent to your employee’s annual leave, including all statutory and bank holidays and discretionary days that they have been unable to take whilst on adoption leave. This adjustment will need to take place at the start of the new leave year or at some time during the current leave year. The member of staff should then request any outstanding leave in the normal way via iTrent.

Cover for adoption leave

You should consider whether the department will need cover during the adoption leave period. If a replacement is required, you will need to raise a Staff Request Form and attach to your request the Finance Manager's confirmation that sufficient funds are available to cover the cost. If insufficient funds are available you may need to consider options such as a shorter period of cover or a lower graded post.

You should also develop and agree a handover with the employee before they go onto adoption leave and agree how contact will be maintained throughout their adoption leave. You can also discuss using Keeping In Touch days (KIT) and whether these are appropriate.

Whilst the member of staff is on adoption leave

Contact whilst on adoption leave

It is important that you keep your member of staff up to date with any developments at work and you should discuss arrangements for reasonable contact during their adoption leave with them.

Keeping in Touch Days (KIT days)

In agreement with the member of staff, they may undertake up to 10 days paid work during their adoption leave without bringing their adoption leave to an end. These are known as Keeping in Touch (KIT) days.

KIT days may be used for any activity which would ordinarily be classed as work under their contract of employment, including training, attending a conference, committee or a team meeting or any activity undertaken for the purposes of keeping in touch with the workplace. The KIT days can be undertaken at any stage during adoption leave.

KIT days are optional and can only take place by agreement between both you and your employee. The member of staff should not be penalised for refusing to take up a KIT day. Similarly, you do not have to agree to it.

As a manager, you should keep a record of the KIT day payment forms submitted to Payroll so that you can keep track of the number of days taken.

Flexible Working

If the employee is considering changing their working pattern or hours of work on return from their adoption leave they can make a request via the Flexible Working Policy. Guidance on what you, as their manager, should consider is available here.

When the member of staff is due to return

Confirming the return date

Prior to the expected return date you should confirm arrangements with the employee, including how any annual leave may be used. The expectation is that 52 weeks leave are taken unless an earlier return date is indicated.

Returning earlier than expected

If the member of staff decides to return to work earlier than had initially been agreed, they will need to give you and your HR Advisor at least 8 weeks’ notice in writing of the new return date. By not doing so, the University could decide to postpone their return for up to 8 weeks or until their adoption leave entitlement comes to an end. If appropriate, you will need to consult with the member of staff who is covering the adoption leave and inform them of the early return of the post holder. Please contact your HR Advisor for further guidance if this is the case.

Supporting their return to work

Supporting an employee who is returning from adoption leave is a key activity for you as the line manager. You should communicate to team members the return date of the member of staff and arrange an appropriate re-induction programme to support the retuning employee in their return to work. This may include:

• Agreeing new objectives - these may need to be modified to ease the member of staff back into the workplace.

• Consider development needs – ensure that the returning employee is updated on new or amended systems and what has happened during their absence. Introduce them to any new members of staff.

• Arrange regular review meetings – these can be arranged to discuss how their return to work is progressing and managing any issues that arise.

• Consider temporary flexible working arrangements if appropriate.

If your member of staff decides not to return to work

They should give you written notice as per their contract of employment. You should ensure that they follow the University Leaver guidance.

Further information

Contact your HR Advisor if further guidance is needed.

Associated policies include:

Flexible working

Paternity Leave

Parental Leave

Shared Parental Leave

Dependent Care Leave

• [Time off for IVF]

• [Teaching Exemption (Academic Staff)]


If you have any questions, please contact us.

HR Advisory Team