1. Policy statement

The University is committed to supporting best practice in relation to adoption leave and pay to enable working parents to balance the needs of work and family life. The University recognises that parents appreciate flexibility in how they provide care for their children and makes provision to support this.

In line with this approach, the University provides adoption benefits including adoption pay and time off that are above the statutory minimum and which largely reflects the University's enhanced maternity provisions.

This policy and procedure sets out the entitlements and benefits for adoptive parents.

2. Scope

This policy and procedure applies to all employees who have a contract of employment with the University of York.

3. Aims

The policy aims:

  • to promote a consistent and supportive approach to adoption across the University
  • to increase awareness about the provisions available for adoptive parents
  • to ensure the protection of the health and well-being of the adoptive parents and their child
  • to comply with legislative requirements

It sets out the contractual and statutory adoption rights to which employees are entitled, both before and after the placement of a child.

Queries regarding the application of this policy should be directed to the relevant HR Adviser.

4. Principles

The University of York has an occupational adoption scheme which incorporates all relevant legislation and statutory entitlements to adoption leave and pay and offers some benefits above those entitlements.

  • All employees, regardless of length of service or hours worked are entitled to up to 52 weeks' adoption leave.
  • The adoption leave period may begin from the date of the child's placement for adoption (whether this is earlier or later than expected) or from a predetermined date which can be up to 14 days before the expected date of placement.
  • Adoption leave must be taken in one continuous block and cannot be broken by any other leave.

The right to adoption leave is available to one member only of a couple who have had a child placed with them for adoption. It is up to the adoptive parents to decide which of them takes the adoption leave.

5. Entitlement to adoption leave

An employee will be entitled to adoption leave if they have:

  • Been matched with a child for adoption
  • Notified the adoption agency that they agree that the child will be placed with them and have agreed a date for this placement
  • Given the correct notice to the University (notice should normally be given within seven days of the employee being notified of a match with a child)
  • Complied with the evidence requirements, where they apply

In addition the following employees are entitled to adoption leave and pay:

  • Dual approved prospective adopters who have a child placed with them under the Children Act 1989 with a view to them adopting that child (this is sometimes referred to as fostering for adoption); and
  • The intended parents in a surrogacy arrangement where they are eligible for and intend to apply for a Parental Order (or where they have already obtained such an order) making them the legal parents of the child that they are having with the help of a surrogate mother. These parents are referred to as "Parental Order parents" in this policy.

6. Entitlement to adoption pay

The type of adoption pay that an employee will get depends on how long they have been working for the University; this is detailed in Procedure.

7. Contractual and other benefits

Apart from pay, the employee will continue to receive any contractual benefits which they would normally receive if they were at work, throughout their adoption leave period.

a) Time off to attend application interviews

Up to two days (14.8 hours) reasonable paid time off will be provided in connection with the application for adoption. This may include pre-adoption interviews, adoption training, visits or court appearances.

b) Time off to attend adoption appointments

Eligible employees are entitled to time off to attend adoption appointments in the period between being notified of a match with a child and the date that the child joins the family:

  • (i) Single adopters are entitled to paid time off to attend up to five adoption appointments
  • (ii) In the case of joint adoptions (ie a couple who have been jointly matched to adopt the child) one of the adopters will be entitled to paid time off to attend up to five adoption appointments. The other adopter may be entitled to unpaid time off work to attend up to two adoption appointments
  • (iii) Up to 6.5 hours is allowed for each appointment, although individuals should take only the time that they need to attend the adoption appointment
  • (iv) The appointment must have been arranged by or at the request of the adoption agency
  • (v) Where there are joint adopters, the adopter who took paid time off to attend adoption appointments cannot claim paternity leave and pay
  • (vi) Parental Order parents are entitled to take unpaid leave to enable them to accompany the surrogate mother to up to two of her antenatal appointments

c) Parental Leave

This applies to employees who have completed one year's service with the University and allows parents to take unpaid Parental Leave to care for their child when it is born or placed for adoption. If Parental Leave is taken immediately after the child is born, or is placed for adoption, or where it is taken immediately following the employee's maternity leave, it may be taken in a block of up to 18 weeks, by agreement with the Head of Department, subject to the required notice being given by the employee. For further details see the policy on parental leave.

d) Sharing adoption leave with a partner

Where an employee decides to return to work prior to completing their full entitlement to 52 weeks adoption leave, they may share the untaken balance of leave and pay as Shared Parental Leave and Pay. For further guidance see the University's policy on shared parental leave.

e) Continuity of service

Where an employee returns to work following adoption leave (paid or unpaid) the period of absence due to adoption leave will not affect their recognised continuous service for employment rights and service related benefits. Where relevant, the employee will be entitled to receive an increment on their salary in accordance with her normal incremental date.

f) Pension

If an employee is a member of the USS or University of York Pension scheme, the University will continue to make its usual contribution for the whole of the time they are receiving Occupational or Statutory Adoption Pay. During any unpaid adoption leave their active pension scheme membership will be "suspended". This means that the period will not count as pensionable service, but that benefits will be paid in the event of their death or ill-health retirement during adoption leave, on the basis of the service and salary which counted at the end of their paid adoption leave.

Further information about pension arrangements while on adoption leave is available from the Pensions Team.

g) Annual leave

  • 1. An employee will continue to accrue annual leave during their adoption leave. Staff on adoption leave who, as a result, are unable to take all of their annual leave entitlement in a particular year are allowed to carry forward any untaken annual leave to the following leave year. Prior to starting their adoption leave it is recommended that the employee discusses arrangements for using annual leave with their manager.
  • 2. Staff who are on adoption leave on a public/statutory or customary holiday are allowed to take the day(s) of holiday at a mutually convenient time (ie agreed with their line manager).
  • 3. Annual leave cannot be taken during a period of adoption leave. It must be taken either prior to, or following adoption leave. Any annual leave taken following the placement of the child will be deemed to be a 'return to work' for the purposes of adoption regulations. The employee will therefore be expected to resume their normal duties following the period of leave. If Payroll has not already been informed of leave arrangements via the AL2 (Adoption return to work), then the manager must do so in writing. Notification should be in writing and confirm the date adoption leave ended and the annual leave dates.

h) Leave in special circumstances

An employee may also find it useful to familiarise him/herself with the University's approach to requests for leave in special circumstances.

i) Additional provisions

All adoptive parents, regardless of length of service or hours worked:

  • are expected to return to the same job they did prior to adoption leave, but if that is not possible, a similar job on terms and conditions of employment which are no less favourable
  • have protection against detriment, disadvantage, unfair treatment or dismissal arising from the adoption or adoption leave
  • may be offered up to ten 'Keeping In Touch' (KIT) days during adoption leave without losing entitlement to adoption pay