During adoption leave

This section explains: 

  • what an employee has to tell their department while they are on adoption leave; 

  • contact arrangements between department and employee during adoption leave; 

  • what work can be undertaken when an employee is on adoption leave. 

Expand All

Departments and their employees will often find it helpful, before adoption leave starts, to discuss arrangements for staying in touch with each other. This might include agreements on the way in which contact will happen, how often, and who will initiate the contact. It might also cover the reasons for making contact and the types of things that might be discussed. There is a section on the Adoption Leave Plan for the employee to note their preferences in this respect. 

During the adoption leave period, a department may make reasonable contact with an employee and, in the same way, an employee may make contact with their department. What constitutes "reasonable" contact will vary according to the circumstances. Some employees will be happy to stay in close touch with the department and will not mind frequent contact. Others, however, will prefer to keep such contact to a minimum. The frequency and nature of the contact will depend on a number of factors such as the nature of the work and the employee's post, any agreement that the employer and employee might have reached before adoption leave began as to contact and whether either party needs to communicate important information to the other, such as, for example, news of changes at the workplace that might affect the employee on their return. 

The contact between department and employee can be made in any way that best suits either or both of them. For example, it could be by telephone, email, letter, involving the employee making a visit to the workplace, or in other ways. 

Departments should note that they must, in any event, keep the employee informed of information relating to their job that they would normally be made aware of if they were working (such as changes to terms and conditions of employment). 


An employee may, by agreement with their department, do up to ten days' work - known as ‘Keeping in Touch’ (KIT) days - under their contract of employment during the adoption leave period. Such days are different to the reasonable contact that departments and employees may have with each other, as during KIT days employees can actually carry out work for the department, for which they will be paid. 

Any work carried out during the adoption pay period (39 weeks) or adoption leave period (52 weeks) will count as a whole KIT day, up to the ten day maximum. In other words, if an employee comes in for a one hour training session and does no other work that day, they will have used one of their KIT days. Once an employee has exhausted their ten KIT days, if they do any other work they will lose a week's SAP for the week in which the have done that work. 

The type of work that the employee undertakes on KIT days is a matter for agreement between them and their department. They may be used for any activity which would ordinarily be classed as work under their contract but would be particularly useful, eg in enabling the employee to attend a conference, undertake a training activity or attend for a team meeting, for example. 

This work during adoption leave may only take place by agreement between both the department and the employee. A department may not require an employee to work during their adoption leave if they do not want to, nor does an employee have the right to work KIT days if their department does not agree to them. 

The KIT days can be undertaken at any stage during the adoption leave period, by agreement with the department with the exception that during the first two weeks after the child's placement (the compulsory adoption leave period) no work is permitted. 

If it has been agreed with the department that the employee would like to work KIT days during their adoption leave, the employee will need to make sure that they respond when their department offers them this work. The department should give as much notice as possible of the work that they would like the employee to do and clarify what they will be paid for the work they do. 

As KIT days allow work to be carried out under the employee's contract of employment, the employee is entitled to be paid for that work.  

If an employee attends for work, they should be paid the equivalent of their normal hourly rate for the hours they work on the day in question. Therefore, during the period of adoption leave that they are being paid at the rate of full pay, no further payment would be due, but payment would be due if the work is done after the full pay period is ended.  An employee will continue to be paid their SAP for the week in which the work is done.

There is a maximum limit of ten KIT days allowed under the adoption leave regulations and once an employee has used up their ten KIT days and they then do any further work, they will lose a week's SAP for the week in which they have done that work and the Adoption leave will come to an end. 

The hours to be worked must be agreed in advance between the department and the employee. The pay for this work should also be confirmed by the department in advance. 

Any questions from departments about payment during KIT days should be directed to their HR Business Partner. 


Unless otherwise notified, the date on which an employee returns to work will normally be the first working day 52 weeks after the adoption leave began. The actual return date will normally be recorded in the Adoption Leave Plan. 

(i) Return to work before the end of the adoption leave period 

If the employee wishes to return to work before the end of their full adoption leave period (this will normally be the end date that the department confirmed to the employee before they went on leave), they must give their department at least eight weeks' notice of their return to work. This notice requirement applies throughout the whole period of leave. The notice period is the minimum that the department is entitled to expect, but the department may, at its discretion, accept less notice 

If the employee tries to return to work without having given the appropriate eight weeks' notice, the department may postpone the employee's return until the end of the eight weeks' notice period. However, the department may not postpone the return to a date later than the end of the adoption leave period. 

(ii) Return to work later than previously notified 

An employee who has notified their department that they wish to return to work before the end of their 52 weeks' entitlement to adoption leave, is entitled to change their mind. However, in these circumstances, they should give their department notice of this new, later date at least eight weeks before the earlier date. 

(iii) Employees who do not wish to return to work after adoption leave 

An employee who does not wish to return to work after their adoption leave must give their department the notice of termination required by their contract of employment. However, if an employee is in the position to do so, it would be helpful to the department if they can give as much notice as possible of their intention to leave their employment. 


Please note:

If an employee does not return to work for at least three months following the adoption leave period, departments may reclaim the whole of the non-statutory element of adoption pay.  If an employee cannot return to work because their fixed-term contract has ended, it would not be expected that they would be required to repay any of their adoption pay. 

Employees on adoption leave will be paid in exactly the same way that their salary would be paid if they were at work, on the day of the month, as set by Payroll. Whilst on full-pay adoption leave, SAP is included within pay. It is not paid in addition to full-pay. 

The employee can access their pay slip through HR Self-service as normal.

If an employee is sick during their adoption leave, they cannot claim sick pay. If the employee is sick when their adoption leave is due to end, they will be deemed to be an employee who has returned to work but who is on sick leave under the University's sick pay scheme. 

Where the staff member taking adoption leave is a Tier 2 or Tier 5 visa holder and their period of leave will include a period paid either at the rate of statutory pay, or unpaid leave please refer to the Staff Immigration Team webpage for the latest guidance on what will need to be reported to the Home Office.  For further information contact the Staff Immigration Team. 

If an employee's contract is due to end during the adoption leave period, the department must discuss this with their HR Business Partner before commencing any end of fixed-term contract or redundancy procedures. 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 is 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.

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. If the redundancy or end of fixed-term contract process proceeds, and the employee has provided written confirmation that they wish the department to seek suitable alternative employment for them within the University, this should be sought in the normal way. If it has not been possible to redeploy the employee, under the normal University rules, then University contractual pay and rights under the University's contractual adoption pay scheme will end on the same day that the contract expires, and employment ends. The employee may continue to have entitlement to Statutory Adoption Pay and any outstanding payment will be paid to the employee as a lump sum amount at the end of their employment.

Parents using University nursery provision, childcare vouchers or salary sacrifice schemes must contact Childcare Services before the unpaid period, as the schemes operate differently during the unpaid period of adoption leave. 

During the whole period of adoption leave the employee is entitled to receive all their contractual benefits with the exception of remuneration. This includes all non-cash benefits such as childcare vouchers. 

Please note: 

If an employee is currently using University childcare tax saving schemes (ie the nursery fee salary sacrifice scheme or the childcare vouchers scheme) it is important that they seek advice about the changes which occur within these schemes during the unpaid period of adoption leave. For further information visit the Childcare Services web pages. 


Annual Leave 

Contractual annual leave (including bank holidays and fixed closure days) will accrue throughout the full 52 weeks of adoption leave. 

Departments may wish to ask employees to take any accrued annual leave prior to their adoption leave. Departments may also ask that an employee takes at least 28 days' annual leave (the annual statutory holiday requirement) before they go on adoption leave if they will not return to work before the end of the current leave year. In the event that an adoption leave period crosses over two annual leave years, the employing department may ask an employee returning to work to use up the balance of their annual leave from the leave year that has ended at the end of their adoption leave period. It is not possible for an employee to take annual leave at the same time as adoption leave. This will assist departments in managing the larger amounts of annual leave that will be accrued during adoption leave. 

However, departments retain the right to make annual leave arrangements with their employees to fit in with operational requirements. Employees must agree when they will take annual leave in advance with their department, and they may wish to consider retaining some of their annual leave to allow them to take time off as required to look after their children should they be ill, or need some additional support whilst settling into a nursery or with new childcarers. It should be clarified to the employee early on that whilst a small amount of paid leave is available to staff for dealing with domestic emergencies, this is not intended to cover foreseeable domestic problems such those outlined above, and in most cases it would be anticipated that annual leave would be used to cover such circumstances.  

If an employee wishes to take annual leave at the end of their adoption leave period, they are deemed to have returned to work at the notified date and then they may take their annual leave as agreed with their department. 


When an employee is on adoption leave, their normal employee contributions to their pension will continue to be deducted at the appropriate rate while they are on full pay and when they are on SAP. The University will also continue to make its contributions at the appropriate rate. When the employee is on zero pay, no contributions are payable by either them or the University. 

If, when an employee returns to work, they would like to make up the pensions contributions that they did not pay because they were on reduced or zero pay during adoption leave, the employee may do so. The Pensions Office will be able to advise the employee on their individual situation. 

Sickness during/at the end of adoption leave 

The University follows the same rules as are applied to statutory payments and sick pay cannot be claimed at the same time as adoption pay. Employees are therefore disqualified from receiving sick pay until the period of paid adoption pay has ended. 

If an employee comes to the end of adoption leave and is too ill to return to work (for any reason), they should still notify the department in the normal way that they wish to return to work. If an employee remains too ill to return to work after the date on which they were intending to return to work, they must provide the department with a medical certificate and should be treated as though they had returned to work and were absent from work due to sickness. 

The University sick leave scheme only covers the sickness of the employee and not sickness suffered by any of their dependents. 

Where more than one child is adopted at the same time the primary adopter is eligible for only one of adoption leave and pay (as is the case when, for example, a birth mother has twins).  However, where another child is adopted before the first period of adoption leave has ended, provided that the primary adopter satisfies the qualifying conditions, they will be entitled to another period of 52 weeks statutory adoption leave. In these circumstances, the 52 weeks of adoption leave relating to the second child will supercede the first period of leave. For example, if the first period of leave begins on 1 April and the second on 1 July, the first period of adoption leave will end automatically on 30 June when the second period begins. 

Where the employee qualifies for the University’s enhanced contractual adoption leave and pay scheme then the 26 weeks leave at the rate of full pay will restart on the adoption of the second child. For example, if the first period of leave begins on 1 April and the second on 1 July, full pay will be payable from 1 April, until 26 weeks after 1 July.

If the employee qualifies for statutory adoption pay in relation to both children, the adoption pay relating to the first child is not brought to an end by entitlement to adoption pay relating to the second child. The employee will be entitled to two statutory payments during any weeks where the two periods of adoption pay entitlement overlap – except that during any period of full pay leave, the employee will never receive more than full pay entitlement (unless their normal full pay is less than 2 x statutory adoption pay per week).