University's contractual adoption pay scheme

The University’s contractual adoption pay scheme entitles all eligible employees (regardless of their grade or the hours worked) to receive some pay during their adoption leave that is paid to them at their normal full rate of pay (which is above the statutory minimum). 

Expand All

In order to qualify for the contractual adoption pay scheme, at the week in which the employee is notified that they have been matched with a child the employee must: 

i) hold a current CMS contract of employment , and have commenced employment, with the University; and 

ii) have been matched with a child to be placed with them by a UK adoption agency (either for adoption or through an early permanence arrangement such as'fostering for adoption' or a 'concurrent planning placement' as a dual approved prospective adopter) and be the designated primary adopter*; and 

iii) have notified the agency that they agree that the child should be placed with them and agree the date of placement; and 

iv) provide their department with the correct notification of their intention to take adoption leave; and 

v) intend to return to work following the adoption and return for at minimum period of three months**. 

*Adoptive parents who are not the primary adopter may be eligible for paternity leave and/or shared parental leave. 

**If an employee is on a fixed-term contract, please see the relevant section below. 

With effect from 1 January 2020 the University no longer requires staff to have 26 weeks service at the expected week of placement to be eligible for the contractual scheme:  if they have started employment before the expected week of placement they will be eligible as long as they meet the other requirements of the scheme.  However, this will not give automatic eligibility for statutory benefits.  Please speak to your HR Administrator without delay for full details. 



If the employee meets all the qualifying conditions, and their contract of employment will continue throughout the entire period of the proposed adoption leave (unless an employee is on a fixed-term contract, which is due to expire) the employee will be eligible to receive the following: 

  • up to 26 weeks' leave paid at the full rate of pay (inclusive of any statutory adoption pay (SAP) which is due); followed by 

  • up to 13 weeks' leave paid at the statutory adoption rate of pay (if an employee does not meet all the statutory qualification rules for SAP, they will only receive pay for the first 26 weeks adoption leave); followed by 

  • up to 13 weeks' unpaid leave. 

Total = 52 weeks' leave 

Payments under the University’s contractual adoption pay scheme consist of two elements; contractual pay and SAP. 

SAP is paid at a statutory flat rate set by the government. To qualify for SAP, the employee must have been continuously employed with the University for at least 26 weeks ending in the week that the employee is notified that they have been matched with a child and have average weekly earnings above the National Insurance lower earnings limit. The employee must also have given their department the correct notice and proof of adoption (if requested). The Payroll team can also help to establish whether an employee is eligible for SAP at the appropriate time. 

SAP is paid over the first 39 weeks of adoption leave at the rate of: 

  • 90% of average weekly earnings (this figure is worked out at the week in which the employee has been notified of being matched with a child) for each of the first six weeks of adoption leave; followed by 

  • 33 weeks of flat rate SAP . The flat rate is set by the government and is subject to review every April. 

As the University’s contractual adoption pay scheme pays full pay for up to the first 26 weeks' adoption leave, any SAP which is due to the employee is automatically incorporated into the first 26 weeks' full pay. It is not paid in addition to full pay. For the next 13 weeks, the University pays SAP only (where eligible). For the final 13 weeks of adoption leave no payments are made. 

In a case where the employee is adopting more than one child at the same time, the employee is entitled to the same benefits as though they were adopting one child. In the event that, during the period of adoption leave,  a second child is adopted, the primary adopter may be entitled to a second period of adoption leave.  See During Adoption Leave for further information

If an employee does not meet the qualifying criteria for the University’s contractual adoption pay scheme (for example because they do not intend to return to work after the leavE), they may still qualify for SAP. An employee who is adopting a child is entitled to up to 52 weeks' adoption leave regardless of whether they qualify for any type of adoption pay. 

An employee who does not qualify for SAP or contractual pay, but who wishes to take adoption leave still needs to provide the relevant notices (including the matching certificate) to their department and to fill in an Adoption Leave Plan. 


If an employee decides not to return to work at the end of their adoption leave, or returns to work for less than three months, the University reserves the right to reclaim all or part of the payments made under the University’s contractual pay scheme, minus the SAP element, to which the employee was eligible. If an employee resigns during their adoption leave, they must do so in the normal way, giving the notice period stated in their employment contract. 
All other contractual benefits will end as at the end date of the employee’s employment with the University. An employee who is eligible for SAP may continue to be receive SAP after employment ends. Any such payment will be paid to the employee as a lump sum amount at the end of their employment. 
If an employee plans not to return to work following a period of adoption leave, before they go on adoption leave, then they will not be eligible for the University's contractual adoption pay scheme. The employee may still qualify to receive SAP


If you are a dual approved prospective adopter and a child is placed with you on a fostering for adoption arrangement,  concurrent planning placement or similar formal, local authority approved scheme, if you are the primary adopter you will be eligible to take up the adoption leave and pay scheme from up to 2 weeks before the child is placed with you, initially for fostering.  You will need to provide evidence of the local authority decision to place a child with you which should specify that this is  “in accordance with the Children Act 2002”.

If you take adoption leave and pay when the child is placed with the family, initially for fostering, you cannot access further adoption leave and pay in respect of the same child(ren) if the adoption goes ahead.  If the arrangement does not proceed to a formal adoption, as a dual approved prospective adopter your entitlement to adoption leave and pay will end 8 weeks after the child is removed from your family, or at the end of the adoption leave period, whichever is earlier.

For further information about how the adoption leave and pay scheme applies to dual approved prospective adopters please contact your departmental HR contact, who will seek advice from University HR.