After adoption leave

This section explains: 

  • an employee's rights on returning to work following adoption leave; and 
  • matters relating to taking time off to care for sick dependents or domestic emergencies. 

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An employee may not return to work before the end of their compulsory two-week adoption leave period, from the date of placement.  

An employee who is returning to work after a period of OAL only, is entitled to return to the same job in which they were employed before they went on leave, on terms and conditions that are the same, or no less favourable than those that would have applied had the employee not been absent on adoption leave (unless a redundancy situation has arisen or a fixed-term contract has come to an end). An employee who is returning to work after a period of AAL, or a period of at least four weeks' parental leave on top of their OAL, will normally return to the same job they were in before they went on leave. However, if there is a reason other than redundancy which means that it is not reasonably practicable for the University to permit them to return to the same job, they are entitled to return to a different job which is both suitable for them and appropriate in the circumstances, on terms and conditions that are no less favourable than they would have been had the employee not been absent (unless a redundancy situation has arisen or a fixed-term contract has come to an end).

In both instances, before any redundancy or end of fixed-term contract procedure commences, the department must consult with an HR Business Partner before proceeding because under the Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023, employees who have taken a period of adoption leave are entitled to enhanced protection from redundancy for 18 months after the child has been placed during any period in which they are considered to be at risk of redundancy (typically the final 3 months of the contract when they are considered to be a priority candidate). This means that they should be given priority consideration for redeployment opportunities during this period. Whilst every effort should be made to support redeployment, there is no guarantee that suitable redeployment will be found: suitable alternative employment (ie where the postholder meets at least the minimum essential selection criteria for the role) may not arise during the relevant period of time.

Employees have the right to request flexible working (ie a change to their hours, times or place of work) and the employing department must deal with the request in accordance with the University's flexible working request procedure. If an employee wishes to work a flexible working pattern on a temporary basis to ease their return to work, they should discuss this with their department as soon as possible. It may be possible to use accrued annual leave for this purpose. 

Employees returning from adoption leave may also have a separate entitlement to Parental Leave which is a period of unpaid leave. 


Temporary changes 

If an employee requests a temporary change to their normal working hours at the end of adoption leave, the department should, subject to operational needs, consider allowing them the opportunity to return to their normal working hours (before the change occurred) on a phased basis. Accrued annual leave may also be used to facilitate such a request. 

If an employee would like to return to work gradually at less than their normal full-time hours, they should discuss this possibility with their department before they begin their adoption leave. This will allow departments time to arrange cover. Departments are asked to consider such requests favourably where at all possible, but any arrangement will depend on the operational needs of the department. 

It is important to note that this flexibility of return does not allow an employee to choose from week to week what hours they would like to work. The intention is for employees and departments to agree a regular timetable of hours to help an employee to return to full-time work as smoothly as possible. Any arrangements must be agreed with the Head of Department so that they fit into the operational requirements of the department and/or group with whom the employee works. For the period of part-time work, employees will be paid at the appropriate pro-rata rate. This will have implications for pensions contributions which employees may wish to discuss with the Pensions Office

Permanent changes 

Following adoption leave, an employee's legal right is to return to the job which they held prior to their adoption leave. If an employee decides that they would like to amend their working hours permanently, they may apply to their department under the University's flexible working procedures. The department must deal with the request in accordance with the University's flexible working request procedure. A flexible working request might include shorter hours or working fewer weeks of the year, but agreement to this type of request is dependent upon the operational requirements of the department. For any period worked part-time, pay and pensions contributions will be adjusted accordingly. 

In the early days of settling a child into a new care arrangement, in a nursery or with a childcarer, there are often quite a number of matters which may require new parents to be absent from the workplace, such as minor illness to be dealt with, or problems with settling into the new care arrangements. Parents may wish to consider retaining some of their accrued holiday leave to enable them to deal with these situations. 

Whilst absence from work to attend to an emergency such as the sickness of a member of an employee's immediate family or equivalent, or to attend to a family or domestic emergency will normally be paid in the first instance, it is intended that this is to enable employees to make the necessary arrangements for continued care or attention. Such paid leave will therefore normally be very limited (from half a day to no more than two days) and is not intended to cover repeated absences for minor problems, but rather to deal with exceptional circumstances. Additional leave, which will normally be unpaid or taken as annual leave, may be granted. In certain exceptional circumstances a department may grant a further limited period of paid leave for these purposes. It is important that these provisions are not abused and departments will monitor the frequency of leave requests. For further information go to the staff handbooks. 

Wherever possible employees must apply in advance to the Departmental Administrator, or Head of Department, or to the person to whom they would normally report sickness absence, and should not leave their place of work without having obtained permission from an appropriate person. 


Managing the leave: this checklist should be used as a guide to ensure that all aspects of an employee's adoption leave have been addressed. 

Before the adoption leave starts 

a) When your employee tells you of his or her intention to adopt: 

1. Check that you have received notification of the impending adoption within seven days of the parent being matched with a child or as soon as is reasonably practicable. 

Notification should include the date when the child is expected to be placed with the employee and the date when the employee wants their adoption leave to start. 

2. Ensure that you have received a matching certificate from the adoption agency. A matching certificate is documentary evidence of your employee's right to adoption leave.  

Employees can ask their adoption agency for a matching certificate, which will also include basic information on matching and expected placement dates. 

b) Within 28 days of being notified of impending adoption: 

1. Check that you have issued a copy of the Adoption Leave Plan. Completing the adoption plan is not a legal requirement in order for an employee to be able to claim adoption leave and pay, but it will give you all the information which you will need to manage the leave, such as when the child is going to be placed, and when adoption leave will start. If you can go through the form with your employee, it will help to ensure that your employee understands their entitlements and obligations. 

2. Ensure that you have kept a copy of the Adoption Leave Plan for your records and that you have given the employee a copy. 

3. Check that you have acknowledged receipt of this information (see sample letter). 

4. Explain the time scales for notification and direct your employee to the information on adoption leave on the University HR website. 

5. Check that you have completed and sent the payroll notification form to payroll so that they can calculate pay and leave entitlements. 

6. Discuss the employee’s wishes regarding arrangements for keeping contact during the maternity leave. 

7. Discuss the option of KIT days, what these might entail and how payment for these will be arranged. 

During the Adoption leave 

1. Keep in contact with the employee about any changes in the workplace or regarding their employment, as previously agreed with them. 

2. If KIT days are worked, ensure that the employee is notified well in advance of these and that payment is made, as appropriate. 

3. If the employee contacts you to request a change to a return to work date, ensure that you have been given 8 weeks' notice of the new date and confirm the new date in writing within 28 days of the notification. 

Return to work 

1. Consider a return to work plan, it can be difficult for an employee to return to work after a long break 

2. Give serious consideration to any request for flexible working.