UCL Human Resources


Adoption Leave and Pay Policy

This policy sets out the entitlements and support available to employees who wish to take adoption leave (AL).



1. This policy sets out the entitlements and support available to employees who wish to take adoption leave (AL), because they are either;

i.    Fostering a child for adoption;
ii.    A registered and approved adopter;
iii.   Having a child through a surrogacy arrangement including via a parental order under section 54 of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008.


2. This policy applies to all UCL employees who are to be a “primary adopter”, regardless of any protected characteristic (including sexual orientation and/or gender reassignment), their length of service or their funding source.

3. Employees who are the partner of the primary adoptive parent, are entitled to take Paternity/ Partner’s Leave.

4. Employees wishing to take shared adoption leave, should read the Shared Parental Leave Policy.

5. Employees will not be entitled to adoption leave or pay in the following situations:

i) private adoption
ii) becoming a special guardian or kinship carer
iii) adopting a stepchild
iv) adopting a family member, unless they have applied for a parental order in a surrogacy arrangement

Employees will still however, be able to apply for ordinary parental leave.


AL Adoption Leave
Average Weekly Earnings (AWE)Calculated by totalling the gross earnings in the relevant period and dividing by the number of weeks in that period
Keeping in Touch (KIT)Days during which an employee on AL can, with prior management approval, attend work, undertake training or keep in touch with work developments through other means, without bringing the leave period to an end
Occupational Adoption Pay (OAP) A full pay enhancement to SAP and paid to staff on AL
Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP) Paid for the first 6 weeks and is equivalent to 90% of AWE. For the next 33 weeks is equivalent to the lower of 90% of AWE or the published weekly SAP level
Surrogacy Leave (SuL)Unpaid time off for the intended parents in a surrogacy arrangement to attend antenatal appointments


Time off for Adoption Appointments

6. Employees who are primary adopters may take paid time off to attend up to five adoption appointments once they are matched with a child.

7. Employees whose partner is the primary adopter, are entitled to take unpaid time off in order to attend up to two such appointments.

8. Adoptive parents in a surrogacy arrangement are entitled to unpaid leave to attend up to two antenatal appointments.

9. Employees must endeavour to give as much notice as possible to their line manager for adoption or antenatal appointments. 

Entitlement to Adoption Leave

10. There is no qualifying length of service requirement for Adoption Leave.

11. The primary adopter, is entitled to take up to 52 weeks AL.

12. The legal minimum amount of AL that employees must take is two weeks compulsory adoption leave, immediately following the date of the placement.

13. When can AL start?

i)  Fostering for Adoption
An employee can choose for AL to begin when a fostering for adoption placement is made, or at the point the child is matched for adoption (which may be some months later). Taking AL at the later date (on matching) may affect Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP) as this is calculated based on the final 8 weeks’ salary before taking leave.

Adopters are eligible for Adoption Leave only once per placement.

ii) Adoption Leave as a registered adopter
AL can start from the date that the adopted child is placed, or up to fourteen days before the date of the placement.

If the child is being adopted from overseas, AL can start when the child arrives in the UK or within 28 days of this date.

iii) Adopting if using a surrogate 
AL can start the day the child is born or the day after.

Neonatal Leave

i) Primary adopters are entitled to up to 12 weeks neonatal leave, in line with the provisions in the maternity policy and providing they are the primary adoptive parent whilst the child is in neonatal care.

Entitlement to Adoption Pay

14. Providing that the correct notification processes have been followed, all employees who are primary adopters, regardless of length of service, are entitled to Occupational Adoption Pay (OAP). 

15. OAP is full pay for 18 weeks. This can be paid in either of the following ways: 

(i) 18 weeks' full pay, or 
(ii) 9 weeks' full pay followed by 18 weeks' half pay.

16. An employee will be entitled to Statutory Adoption pay if they:

  • they have at least 26 weeks' service by the time they are matched with a child, or the 15th week before the baby's due in the case of a surrogacy agreement
  • earn on average the required amount,
  • give the correct notice, and
  • provide evidence of the surrogacy or adoption as described in paragraph 22, plus a declaration that they have elected to receive SAP, at least 28 days before the date chosen as the beginning of the adoption pay period or, if that is not possible, as soon as reasonably practicable.

If an employee is not eligible for SAP, UCL Payroll Services will give the employee a form ‘SAP1’ and they may be able to get support from the local council, or adoption agency instead.

SAP is payable for a 39-week period and is included within the weeks of OAP. Payment for the two options is as follows and no other payment schedule options are available: :

WeekOption (i) Option (ii)Not eligible for SAP: option(i)Not eligible for SAP: option (ii)
 1 – 9Full pay (incorporating 6 weeks higher rate SAP + 3 weeks lower rate SAP) Full pay (incorporating 6 weeks higher rate SAP + 3 weeks lower rate SAP) Full payFull pay 
10 - 18Full pay (incorporating lower rate SAP)Half pay + lower rate SAPFull payHalf pay 
19 - 27Lower rate SAP Half pay (incorporating lower rate SAP) Half payHalf pay
28 - 39Lower rate SAPLower rate SAPUnpaid Unpaid
40 – 52Unpaid    Unpaid    Unpaid Unpaid

Please check the Government website for the current rate

17. If the child's placement ends during the AL period, the adopter will be able to continue AL for up to eight weeks after the end of the week in which the placement stops. Payment of adoption pay continues for this eight week period, or until the end of the employees SAP period if that is sooner.

18. Payment of Adoption Pay commences simultaneously with the beginning of the AL period and is paid monthly in arrears (in the same way salary is paid). 

Notification Process

19. An employee going through the adoption process should inform their manager of this as early as is reasonably possible and, when requesting AL, is required to notify their line manager within 7 days of being matched with a child. 

20. Where an employee plans to adopt a child or apply for a parental order following a surrogacy agreement, they must tell UCL when they want to start their adoption leave, at least 15 weeks beforehand. 

See paragragh 13 for information on the earliest/latest AL can start.

21. The employee should complete and submit the online application form. Once signed by the Line Manager, this will be automatically forwarded to HR Services for processing. Within four weeks of receiving the application, HR Services will write to the employee to confirm the maximum amount of AL and Adoption Pay to which they are entitled and the date by which they are expected to return to work. 

22. The Adoption Application form should be supported by a letter issued by the adoption agency that matched the employee with the child. Where there is a surrogacy agreement, the Adoption Application form should be supported by a statutory declaration confirming that the employee intends to apply for a parental order in the six months after the baby’s birth and expects the order to be granted. . Please review the government website for what to include in the declaration or letter: Statutory Adoption Pay and Leave: employer guide: Proof of adoption.

23. In circumstances where there is a surrogacy arrangement, but the employee does not qualify for a parental order, please contact the Employment Policy team to discuss the available options.

24. AL will automatically end 52 weeks after the start date unless the employee has given 8 weeks’ notice in writing to return before this date. If notice is given after the birth or adoption date, the notice is binding. If notice to end AL is given before the birth or adoption of a child, the primary adoptive parent is able to withdraw this notice in writing up to six weeks after the birth or planned adoption date. This may be because an unplanned situation arises following the birth or adoption of a child.

25. If the date of the placement changes, employees must notify UCL within 28 days if the date of placement (or UK arrival date for overseas adoptions) changes.

26. The employee may wish to curtail their AL in order to enter into Shared Parental Leave with their partner.   For details on this refer to the Shared Parental Leave Policy

27. The employee can contact HR Services if they have a query about eligible dates and entitlements. Please visit the parental leave toolkit page for useful tools and documents to help you plan your leave. 

Keeping in contact during Adoption Leave and Keeping in Touch Days (KIT days)

28. UCL is permitted to maintain contact with employees on AL, providing the contact is reasonable.

29. Employees should discuss with their line manager, prior to commencing their AL, how often they would like to keep in touch, and by what means of communication – for example email updates on what is happening at UCL or within their immediate department or faculty. 

30. Employees on AL should be kept informed (and consulted with, where appropriate) regarding any important business changes or announcements which may affect them.

31. Employees on AL should have access to any internal job vacancies which may be of interest to them and should not be disadvantaged in any way when making an application. 

32. Employees on AL should also be included in invitations to social events, training and conferences that they may wish to attend during their AL.

33. Employees on AL should have the same access of opportunity in terms of training and career progression as other employees and should not be disadvantaged in any way by their absence. Employees should be supported to participate remotely in activities, events and training courses. 

34. An employee and their manager can agree up to 10 'Keeping in Touch' (KIT) days which can be used during AL, without bringing the AL to an end.  KIT days are not mandatory and should be mutually agreed between the manager and the employee. 

35. KIT days can be used for any activity that the employee would normally undertake if they were at work. Examples of activities are: attendance on training courses, meetings, briefings, conferences and remote participation in events. The time should be used productively and agreed in advance. 

36. Any work undertaken on a KIT day will be treated as a whole KIT day irrespective of the actual amount of time spent at work and will count as a whole day's entitlement. For example, going into work for a 2 hour meeting will count as 1 KIT day from the 10 day entitlement. 

37. Employees will be paid their normal rate of pay to the nearest half or full day for any KIT days they take, in addition to any SAP and OAP they are receiving at the time the KIT day is taken. Payment for KIT days is funded by the respective department budget.

38. Payments for KIT days will be subject to deductions for tax and NI but will not be eligible for salary sacrifice. Whether payments for KIT days are pensionable is dependent on the particular pension scheme. Please contact pensions for further information.

39. Employees should complete the online KIT/SPLIT Day form located in the Parental Leave Toolkit, with the dates worked and if this was a full or half day. Once signed by the Line Manager, this will be sent to the Departmental Administrator/Local HR Contact, who will raise this payment via Departmental Transactions using the "KIT Day Payment" pay element. This should be submitted on, or after, the KIT day has been worked. 

Continuity of Employment 

40. The employment contract with UCL continues during AL, and the period of continuous employment for the calculation of superannuation, benefits, accrual of annual leave and entitlement to statutory rights, is not affected. 

Annual Leave

41. Statutory and Contractual Annual leave (including bank holidays and UCL closure days) is accrued throughout the whole period of AL (prorated for part-time staff).

42. Employees must normally take any outstanding accrued annual leave in the year they start AL, prior to the commencement of the period of their AL. In exceptional circumstances this may not always be possible, for example if adoption leave starts earlier than expected. Any annual leave accrued during the period of AL, must be taken at the end of AL, or as soon as reasonably practicable, afterwards. Beyond this, any unused accrued annual leave can be carried to the following year up to a maximum of 5 days in line with the Annual Leave Policy

Authorised Deductions from Pay 

43. Where an employee has authorised salary deductions (e.g. Trade Union membership subscriptions or Give as You Earn) these payments will continue to be deducted during AL. Unless instructed otherwise, UCL will continue to pay all of an employee's authorised deductions during periods of unpaid AL and these contributions will be recovered from future salary payments.

44. If an employee wishes to cancel any authorised salary deductions or contributions whilst on AL, they should contact the HR Payroll Services Team to notify them. For details of how AL affects pension contributions, employees should contact the HR Pension Services Team or refer to your pension provider website.

Returning to Work

45. Employees returning from AL will usually return to the same job unless there has been a restructure in their absence, following staff consultation.  See Organisation Change Policy and Redeployment policy for further details.

46. Line managers should ensure employees returning from AL are supported and integrated back into the business with a return to work plan.

47. Employees who take AL may wish to amend their working pattern on their return to work, either on a permanent or temporary basis. Please see the Work Life Balance Policy for details on how these requests will be handled. 

It is important to note that the process to request flexible working can take up to 13 weeks, therefore as much notice as possible should be given when requesting a change in working hours.

Ending Employment

48. Employees with open-ended appointments who decide not to return to work, during or following a period of AL, should give the correct amount of notice to resign in line with their contract of employment. 

Their employment will end once their notice period comes to an end. 

There is no requirement to repay any OAP or SAP if an employee resigns during their Adoption leave.

49. Employees will be paid in lieu of any accrued untaken holiday, bank holidays and closure days. 

50. If an employee's post is potentially at risk of redundancy or their contract is due to end during their shared parental leave, they will be consulted as appropriate in accordance with the Termination Procedure or Organisational Change Procedure. Consultation meetings can be held online or via telephone calls as agreed between the employee and their line manager.

51.If an employee who is on, or has recently returned from, adoption leave is potentially at risk of redundancy or their contract is due to end, they will have priority status for redeployment opportunities in line with the Redeployment Procedure.

52.UCL will pay the appropriate OAP entitlement until the last day of employment. After this date, if an employee is entitled to any SAP, this will be paid as a lump sum in their final payslip, plus any outstanding annual leave.


Financial Assistance for Departments

53. In the event that an employee applies to take AL under this policy, the Department may request financial assistance to cover the duties of the absent employee which need to be undertaken within the period of absence and which cannot be covered by other staff in the department within their usual working week.

Monitoring of Policy

54. The Employment Policy Team will keep the monitoring of adoption leave and the operation of this policy under review.

HR Employment Policy Team

April 2024