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Adoption and surrogacy leave policy

Understand your rights to adoption or surrogacy leave and pay.



The University is committed to helping balance the needs of work and family life. In addition to this adoption policy there are also a number of family friendly policies aimed at supporting staff achieve work-life balance and meet demands faced when caring for dependents. These include flexible working, paternity leave, shared parental leave, maternity leave and unpaid parental leave.

Scope and purpose

This policy sets out the contractual and statutory adoption rights for all eligible employees wishing to take adoption leave. For further guidance please read the Employee's Guide or Manager's Guide.

The employee has a responsibility to:

i. Inform the line manager and the HR Advisor within seven days of being notified that they have been matched with a child, or as soon as reasonably practicable.

ii. Complete an adoption leave application form and supply the Matching Certificate from the adoption agency or in the case of adoption following surrogacy, 15 weeks before the birth of the child

iii. Maintain contact with the manager during the adoption leave period

iv. Follow the guidance provided

The Manager has a responsibility to:

i. Support the member of staff and ensure fairness and consistency in the application of the policy

ii. Follow the guidance provided

HR have a responsibility to:

i. Meet and advise the member of staff on the application of the policy and guidance and adhere to employment law

ii. Provide the manager with guidance and advice on the application of the policy

iii. Review the policy on an on-going basis to ensure that it follows all legal and regulatory requirements

Payroll have a responsibility to:

i. Pay Occupational Adoption Pay and/or Statutory Adoption Pay in accordance with the employee's contractual rights

ii. Provide an SAP1 form for those employees who are not entitled to either Occupational or Statutory Adoption Pay

iii. Confirm payments due to the employee whilst on adoption leave

Adoption Leave

1) All staff are entitled to take up to 52 weeks Statutory Adoption Leave regardless of their length of service. 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’. For the purposes of this policy, we refer to the primary adopter as ‘the Employee’. The partner of the primary adopter may be eligible for paternity leave and pay and/or shared parental leave and pay. The adoption leave will be unpaid unless the staff member is entitled to Statutory Adoption Pay or Occupational Adoption Pay, as outlined in paragraphs 9 to 15.

2) Statutory Adoption Leave can start at the following times depending on individual circumstances:

  • from the date that that the child is placed with the employee or up to 14 days before the expected date of placement (UK adoptions)

  • when the child arrives in the UK or within 28 days of this date (overseas adoptions)

  • the day after the child is born if the employee has used a surrogate to have a child

3) To take Statutory Adoption Leave the employee must notify the University of their intention within seven days of being matched with a child, specifying the following:

  • the ‘date of placement’ of the child

  • how much leave they would like to take and the leave start date

4) For overseas Adoption Leave the employee should inform the University, within 28 days of getting the notification, or as soon as reasonably practicable. They should specify:

  • the estimated date the child arrives in the UK

  • the actual date the child arrives in the UK

  • how much leave they would like to take and the leave start date

5) For surrogacy arrangements the employee will need to provide written notification that the employee is using a surrogate to have a baby and the University can see confirmation that they will apply for a parental order or apply to adopt. The employee must inform the University of the due date of the child and when they would like to start their leave, at least 15 weeks before the expected week of birth.

6) If the employee wishes to change the start of their Statutory Adoption Leave, they must give the University 28 days’ notice of this. If this is not practicable, notice should be given as soon as is reasonably possible.

7) If the employee wishes to change their return-to-work date, they must give at least eight weeks notice, in writing of their intended return date. If an employee wishes to return earlier than agreed, the eight weeks notice should be given before the new return date. If sufficient notice is not provided, the University may postpone the return by up to eight weeks or until the adoption leave entitlement has been exhausted. Employees wishing to return later than initially agreed should give eight weeks notice before their original agreed return date.

8) The employee is entitled to take paid time off for up to five adoption appointments. The partner will be entitled to take unpaid time off for up to two appointments. The right to two unpaid adoption appointments will also extend to those who will become parents though a surrogacy arrangement. Evidence of appointments may be requested.

Statutory Adoption Pay

9) The employee is eligible for Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP) during Statutory Adoption Leave if they:

  • have been continuously employed by the University for 26 weeks by the week they were matched with a child

  • pays National Insurance contributions on their earnings.

10) SAP is paid for the first 39 weeks of adoption leave as follows:

  • the first six weeks are paid at the higher SAP rate (90% of average weekly earnings before tax)

  • the remaining 33 weeks are paid at the lower SAP rate or 90% of your average weekly earnings, whichever is lower

  • the remaining 13 weeks of a 52 week period of Statutory Adoption Leave are unpaid.

Occupational Adoption Pay (OAP)

12) To be eligible to receive OAP the employee must have been continuously employed at the University for at least 52 weeks at the date that they are matched with a child and return to work for a minimum of three months following their chosen leave period.

13) OAP is paid as follows:

  • the first 8 weeks of SAP are topped up to full pay by OAP

  • the following 18 weeks OAP is paid at half pay, topped up by SAP up to the maximum of full pay

  • the following 13 weeks are paid at the lower SAP rate only (or 90% if the average weekly earnings are less)

  • the remaining 13 weeks are unpaid

14) The provisions of the OAP Scheme are based on a continuing contract of employment. Should the member of staff decide not return to work for at least three months following the end of their leave period, the University reserves the right to recover any payments of OAP that are in excess of the Statutory Adoption Pay entitlement. If the member of staff is on a fixed term contract which ends during their adoption leave or before the completion of their three month return to work period they will not be expected to repay OAP.

15) Where staff have one year’s continuous service prior to their matching date, but are employed on a fixed term contract which expires whilst they are on adoption and prior to the three months’ work on return they should contact their manager and HR Advisor in advance of the contract end date for guidance. Where a fixed term contract ceases after the matching date or during paid adoption leave OAP will cease with effect from the contract end date. The University will continue to pay SAP, if eligible, so the employee will remain on the University Payroll for the remainder of the pay period for payroll purposes only.

How the University supports this policy

Adoption guidance for employees and guidance for managers has been developed to guide both managers and staff through the adoption process by providing a concise overview of what to expect and consider before, during and after adoption leave.

What to do next

Full details explaining the provisions available in relation to adoption, eligibility requirements and notification processes are detailed within the adoption leave guidance.

Your HR Advisor will be happy to meet to discuss adoption arrangements.

An adoption leave application form can be downloaded at the bottom of this web page.

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