Adoption and surrogacy policy

  • This Adoption/Surrogacy policy applies to all employees regardless of their length of service, when one or more children are newly matched for adoption or when a child is born through a surrogacy arrangement.

    The University is committed to the advancement of equality, diversity and inclusion for all of its staff and to developing working practices and HR policies that support work-life balance. Reflecting this commitment the provisions of the University’s Adoption/Surrogacy policy exceed the statutory requirements.

    See also: Shared Parental Leave, Paternity Leave, Parental Leave policies.

    1.2 Aims

    The aims of the policy are to explain:

    • The provisions of adoption/surrogacy leave and pay

    • Who is eligible

    • How to apply.

    1.3 Scope and Eligibility

    Adoption/surrogacy leave and pay is available to:

    • individuals who adopt

    • one member of a couple, including same-sex couples, where a couple adopt jointly

    • one of the intended parents in a surrogacy case

    • an approved prospective adopter who looks after a child as part of a ‘fostering to adopt’ arrangement.

    The partner of an individual listed above may be entitled to paternity leave and pay (see Paternity Leave Policy).

    In addition, Adoption/Surrogacy Leave and pay can be shared - see the Shared Parental Leave Policy.

    Employees who give birth on behalf of a surrogate parent and meet the eligibility requirements will be entitled to Maternity Leave and pay as per the Maternity Policy.

    Throughout this policy, the term ‘partner’ refers to the child's father or the primary adopter/mother's partner, e.g. spouse, same-sex partner or civil partner, but who is not their relative, i.e. child/sibling, etc.

    Adoption/Surrogacy leave and pay is available to eligible employees who become the legal parents of a child following an application for adoption or a parental order.

    Parental Order

    • Where a child is born to a surrogate mother, the intended parents can become the child’s legal parents by applying for a parental order. One of the parents must be genetically related to the child and the child must live with the intended parents. The parental order application must be made when the child is between 6 weeks and 6 months old.

    Adoption Order

    • Adoption using a registered adoption agency will be necessary for intended parents to become the legal parents if neither is genetically related.

    Overseas adoptions

    The conditions are the same as above, however the employee:

    • must have official notification (permission from a UK authority) that they can adopt from abroad; and

    • must fill in the declaration form SC6 if they are adopting a child from abroad with their partner. Completion of the SC6 confirms that the employee has chosen to take statutory adoption pay and leave rather than their partner. Their partner may be eligible for Statutory Paternity Leave and pay and Parental Leave, in which case they should complete form SC5.

    Adoption Leave and pay is not available where:

    • a child is not newly matched for adoption, for example, where a stepparent adopts a partner’s child;

    • the employee has adopted privately, i.e. without permission from UK authority or adoption agency.

    1.4 Glossary of terms

    EWC Expected week of Confinement/childbirth – the week starting on a Sunday that the baby is due
    MATB1 Medical certificate confirming EWC issued by a GP/Midwife after the 20th week of pregnancy
    KIT days Keeping in Touch days
    SPLIT Shared Parental Leave Keeping in Touch days
    SAP Statutory Adoption Pay – the minimum payable to those who qualify as set out in legislation
    Qualifying week The 15th week before the EWC

    The child’s biological father or the primary adopter/mother’s partner, eg. a spouse, civil or long-term partner and inclusive of all gender identities.

    1.5 Adoption/Surrogacy Leave

    • All employees are entitled to up to 52 weeks’ adoption/surrogacy leave regardless of their length of service. The first 26 weeks is known as ordinary adoption/surrogacy leave and the second 26 weeks as additional adoption/surrogacy leave. In addition to this statutory leave, Brookes offers an optional 11 weeks’ additional adoption/surrogacy leave (AAL) - 63 weeks in total.

    • It is for the individual employee to decide how much adoption/surrogacy leave they wish to take.

    • Adoption/Surrogacy leave can start:

      • on the day the child starts living with the employee or up to 14 days before the expected placement date but no later than the expected date of placement

      • when an employee has been matched with a child to be placed with them by an adoption agency

      • when the child arrives in the UK or within 28 days of this date (overseas adoptions)

      • the day the child is born or the following day (surrogacy arrangements).

    • An employee may choose to share their Adoption/Surrogacy leave with a partner. Please refer to the Shared Parental Leave policy for further information and guidance on the procedure.

    1.6 Brookes’ Adoption/Surrogacy Pay

    To qualify for Brookes’ full Occupational Adoption/Surrogacy pay, eligible employees must:

    • Have 26 weeks’ continuous service with the University by the ‘Qualifying week’ (beginning on Sunday) in which:

      • they are notified of being matched with a child within the UK for adoption; or

      • official notification was received of a child from overseas; or

      the 15th week before the baby is due in surrogacy cases.

    • Have gross average earnings at least equal to the lower earnings limit (LEL) in the last 8 weeks up to and including the last payday prior to the end of:

      • the week in which the employee is notified as being matched with a child for adoption; or

      • the qualifying week (i.e. 15th week before the EWC) in surrogacy cases.

    Note: periods of unpaid leave prior to adoption /surrogacy leave may affect an employees’s adoption /surrogacy pay. Further information can be obtained from HR or payroll).

    • Submit the ‘matching certificate’ issued by the adoption agency as proof of adoption or provide proof of intention to become the baby’s legal parent in surrogacy arrangements.

    • Intend to return to work for a minimum of 13 weeks after adoption leave.

    If the employee is able to meet the above criteria, adoption/surrogacy pay will be made as follows:

    • 13 weeks full pay (including the statutory adoption pay (SAP) element)

    • 13 weeks at 50% salary plus SAP flat rate*

    • 13 weeks SAP flat rate

    If the staff member does not intend to return to work for a minimum of 13 weeks following Adoption/Surrogacy leave, they will be entitled to adoption/surrogacy pay as follows:

    • 13 weeks full pay (including SAP element)

    • 26 weeks SAP flat rate*

    *Statutory Adoption Pay ( SAP ) for employees is: 90% of their gross average weekly earnings for the first 6 weeks and the current SAP rate or 90% of their gross average weekly earnings (whichever is lower) for the next 33 weeks (flat rate).

    An employee who receives full Occupational Adoption/Surrogacy Pay and does not return to work for the qualifying 13-week period, will be asked to repay the difference between the full rate and the reduced level. This may be offset against any outstanding leave.

    To avoid this situation, an employee who does not intend to return to work (or who thinks that this is a possibility), or who is on a fixed term contract that expires during the period of Adoption/Surrogacy leave can opt to receive the reduced level of adoption/surrogacy pay.

    An employee who has opted for the lower rate, or whose fixed-term contract is extended, and subsequently returns to work for 13 weeks, and meets all the qualifying criteria for full occupational adoption/surrogacy pay will be paid the difference on completion of 13 weeks back at work.


    • In surrogacy cases, any occupational pay due will be paid from day 1 but the Statutory Adoption pay can only be paid from day 1 if we have been provided with either the Parental Order or a Statutory Declaration confirming that the parent(s) has/have applied/intend to apply for a Parental Order within 6 months of the birth. A statutory declaration is a written statement signed in the presence of a practising solicitor, Notary of the Public, Justice of the Peace, Commissioner for Oaths or other qualified person (eg. accountant).
    • If a request for a change of hours (fte) has been agreed prior to returning to work following adoption/surrogacy leave, the employee will be able to complete the qualifying 13 weeks at the newly agreed fte/hours of work. For example, if they were 1.0 fte prior to taking adoption/surrogacy leave, they will not be expected to work 1.0fte for the 13 week period, before reducing to their new agreed fte.

      The 13 weeks at half pay is optional and dependent on an intention to return to work for at least 13 weeks pro-rata after the period of adoption/surrogacy leave. Any time off, on annual leave or a career break, for example, will not count towards the qualifying 13 weeks pro rata period.

    • Once entitlement to SAP has been established and commenced, the University must pay the full 39 weeks even if the employee resigns during their period of adoption/surrogacy leave.

    • Adoption/surrogacy pay will be paid monthly through payroll as per normal salary payments and will be subject to any tax and national insurance contributions.

    • Employees should complete a Pay Forecast form to obtain a pay forecast from Payroll.

    • The University retains the right to reclaim any payment made if the member of staff fails to provide a copy of the ‘Parental Order’ within six months of leave and pay commencing.

    1.7 Employees with less than 26 weeks continuous service

    If the employee is not eligible for Brookes’ Occupational Adoption/Surrogacy Pay or Statutory Adoption/Surrogacy Pay, they may receive support from their local council instead. Payroll will issue the employee with an SMP1 explaining why they are unable to get Statutory Adoption Pay. The employee may wish to contact HR or payroll for further help and advice.

    2.1 Notification of Adoption

    Prior to informing their line manager, an employee may contact HR in confidence to answer any questions or concerns they may have.

    Employees should inform their line manager and HR using the notice of approval form, that they have been approved as an adoptee/surrogate parent as soon as they have been officially notified, even though they may not have been matched for adoption at this point.

    Employees must inform their line manager and HR of their intention to take adoption leave within 7 days of being notified that they have been matched for adoption, unless this is not reasonably practicable.

    To be eligible for Brookes’ Adoption/Surrogacy Leave and Pay, employees should complete the Adoption Leave and pay form confirming the start of their adoption leave, at least 28 days before the intended start date, or as soon as reasonably practicable.

    The expected date of adoption must be confirmed by the ‘matching certificate’ as soon as this is issued by the adoption agency.

    The employee can start their adoption leave on the date the child starts living with the employee, or at any time from 14 days before the expected date of placement. The leave can not start any later than the expected date of placement.

    Employees can change the start date of their adoption leave, providing they give a minimum of 28 days’ notice before the agreed original start date by completing an updated adoption pay and leave form.

    Employees in surrogacy arrangements must notify HR when the baby is due, and when they want to start their leave at least 15 weeks before the expected week of confinement.

    If the employee is adopting from overseas, the employee must advise HR of:

    • the date of their official notification and the expected date the child arrives in the UK – within 28 days of getting the notification

    • the actual date the child arrives in the UK - within 28 days of this date

    • give 28 days’ notice of leave start date.

    2.2 Time off for Adoption/Surrogacy appointments

    The primary adopter may take reasonable paid time off to attend appointments related to the adoption, e.g. assessment meetings with the adoption agency, meetings with the child when appropriate. In the case of surrogacy this may be antenatal appointments and parental classes. The secondary adopter/surrogate parent is entitled to take unpaid time off for up to two appointments or they may choose to take annual leave and or arrange with their line manager to take TOIL . The line manager may request to see an appointment card or similar document confirming such appointments.

    2.3 Adoption/Surrogacy HR Meeting

    On notification of the employee’s intention to adopt/surrogacy arrangement, HR will set up a meeting with the employee and their line manager to help plan their Adoption/Surrogacy Leave and to answer any questions or concerns they may have. Following the meeting, HR will write to the employee to confirm adoption /surrogacy leave and end dates, etc.

    2.4 Research grant-funded Staff

    Employees who are grant-funded should contact both the grant holder (i.e. the Principal Investigator (PI) on the grant) and their link HR Manager at the earliest possible opportunity to discuss whether any additional arrangements may be available under the grant terms for the payment of salary during adoption/ surrogacy leave. For instance, some funding bodies do have a policy to extend grants to cover such periods. The PI should contact the Post-award Processes Officer in RBDO who will check the funding rules on maternity leave.

    2.5 Sick Leave before Adoption/Surrogacy Leave

    Any absence due to ill-health prior to the commencement of Adoption/Surrogacy leave will be treated under the normal arrangements for sick leave up to the child’s placement or birth date or until the notified date for the start of adoption/surrogacy leave whichever is earliest.

    3.1 Contact during Adoption/Surrogacy Leave

    The University may contact an employee (and vice versa) while they are on Adoption/Surrogacy Leave, e.g. to advise of important changes in the Faculty/Directorate or issues related to return to work plans. However, the amount and type of contact must not be unreasonable. Line managers/departments are encouraged to discuss arrangements for staying in touch with the individual employee member before adoption leave starts. This might cover frequency, reason and mode of contact. The individual may choose to have regular contact or may prefer to keep contact to the minimum. As a minimum line managers need to communicate any important changes at the workplace that might affect the employee on their return.

    3.2 Keeping in Touch Days (KIT)

    Employees may, with the agreement of their line manager, undertake up to 10 KIT days during Adoption/Surrogacy Leave to undertake work, training or other work-related activity. KIT days are optional and an employee has the right to turn down a KIT day without detriment. For each KIT day undertaken the employee may elect to be paid or to take time off in lieu (TOIL) for the number of hours worked, e.g. 2 hours worked = 2 hours pay or TOIL (and 1 KIT day will be used).

    A KIT day can be up to normal contractual hours. Payment for KIT days worked can be claimed using the overtime claim form with KIT hours clearly denoted on the form. TOIL from KIT days should be recorded on the individual’s annual leave card.

    Children may not be brought to the workplace on KIT days.

    3.3 Benefits whilst on Adoption/Surrogacy Leave

    The employee is entitled to receive all contractual benefits during the whole period of Adoption/Surrogacy Leave with the exception of remuneration.

    3.4 Annual Leave, Bank Holidays and Concessionary Days

    Annual leave continues to accrue while an employee is on paid or unpaid Adoption/Surrogacy Leave at the same rate of hours as that worked before the commencement of adoption/surrogacy leave and can be taken in the normal way on return to work or as paid leave before returning. Bank Holiday and concessionary days are also accrued based on the days that actually fall whilst on Adoption/Surrogacy Leave.

    Employees who are unable to take their annual leave in the current year, may carry forward their contractual leave entitlement to the following leave year. Note that leave must be used during the first year after returning from Adoption/Surrogacy Leave, as the normal rules for carry forward (i.e. 5 days pro rata) will apply the subsequent year.

    Annual leave may be used to shorten the period of unpaid Adoption/Surrogacy Leave. Once annual leave is commenced however, the employee is deemed to have returned to work and cannot return to Adoption/Surrogacy Leave.

    If an employee does not return to work following Adoption/Surrogacy leave, annual leave will be accrued for the first 26 weeks of the Adoption/Surrogacy leave period and statutory annual leave for the second 26 weeks’ of the Adoption/Surrogacy leave period, regardless of the length of service. In this case, accrued leave will be paid once resignation is confirmed.

    Semester only-working

    Semester only staff will accrue annual leave during periods of maternity leave.  As this entitlement is normally included with their pay, staff are unable to receive this entitlement during periods of half pay, statutory maternity pay and no pay.  Upon return to work, or the submission of their resignation, payroll will make a calculation to ensure that any leave accrued will be backdated for the period of maternity leave.  This will then be paid as an additional payment with the next salary following maternity leave.  In cases where an employee resigns, a calculation will be made based on the number of weeks worked and leave accrued during maternity.  In this instance, there may be occasions where more leave has been taken than is owed, in which case a deduction of salary will be made.  For more information please speak to the employee services team.

    Variable Hours

    Anyone on a Variable Hours contract should contact the Payroll Team who will be able to calculate the annual leave they will accrue whilst on adoption/surrogacy leave which can be taken as agreed with their line manager as detailed in Section 3.4 above.

    Associate Lecturers

    Associate lecturers’ rate of pay includes an allocation for annual leave rolled into the total amount paid, this means that Associate Lecturers will be paid in their adoption/surrogacy pay for the annual leave that they accrue during the paid part of their adoption/surrogacy leave so will not accrue any additional annual leave to take at any point, however if the Associate Lecturer takes any UNPAID adoption/surrogacy leave then they will accrue annual leave only for the UNPAID part.   Associate Lecturers should contact the Payroll Team who will be able to calculate the annual leave they will accrue whilst on UNPAID adoption/surrogacy leave which can be taken as agreed with their line manager as detailed in Section 3.4 above.

    3.5 Pension arrangements

    For information regarding pension contributions during adoption/surrogacy leave please visit the appropriate pension scheme provider below:

    Local Government Pension Scheme

    Teachers Pension Scheme - Family Leave

    Universities Superannuation Scheme - Life events (see ‘Becoming a Parent’)

    3.6 Sick pay during and at the end of adoption leave

    Employees are not entitled to sick leave whilst entitled to receive statutory adoption/surrogacy pay or whilst on unpaid leave.

    If the employee is ill and unable to return to work at the end of the leave period the normal arrangements for leave due to sickness will come into force.

    3.7 Pay Rises

    Any salary increment / cost of living awarded will be applied on the due date.  If the date falls during the period when adoption / surrogacy pay is payable, the amount of pay will be adjusted as appropriate.  

    3.8 Childcare vouchers

    Membership of the University's Childcare voucher Scheme is now closed to new entrants as the government has introduced a new tax-free childcare scheme. Current scheme members may continue to use the University Childcare Vouchers for as long as the University continues to operate the scheme or may choose to join the government scheme. Current members will benefit from continued membership during any periods of adoption/surrogacy leave.

    3.9 Fixed-Term Contract

    Once entitlement to statutory adoption/surrogacy pay has commenced, the University will pay employees on a fixed-term contract all of their statutory adoption/surrogacy entitlement, even if their employment ends during the period of adoption/surrogacy leave. In such cases, any outstanding payment at the time that the contracts ends, will be paid to the employee as a lump sum.

    3.10 Redundancy

    Employees returning to work at the end of Ordinary Adoption/Surrogacy leave (the first six months of Ordinary Adoption/Surrogacy leave), have the right to return to their original job on the same terms and conditions.

    If the employee is returning to work following additional Ordinary Adoption/Surrogacy leave (any part of the second six months’ of Additional Adoption/Surrogacy leave), they will normally return to their original job. However, if that is not possible then a similar job on the same terms and conditions will be offered.

    If a redundancy situation has arisen whilst the employee has been on Ordinary Adoption/Surrogacy leave, the University will seek to redeploy the employee to a post which carries a similar level of responsibility and remuneration. Where this is not possible, and the employee is redeployed to a post at a lower grade, they will have their salary maintained for a period of up to two years, while further attempts are made to identify a suitable post at the original grade. If there is no suitable alternative work, the employee be may be entitled to redundancy pay.

    See the University’s Redeployment and Handling Redundancies policies for further information.

    3.11 Union membership subscriptions

    When paid Adoption/Surrogacy Leave finishes, union contributions will cease. The employee must contact their union should they wish their contributions to continue during any period of unpaid.

    3.12 Option for Shared Parental Leave (SPL)

    The employee may choose to curtail their adoption/surrogacy pay and leave and opt into Shared Parental Leave. For SPL to start, the primary adopter must do one of the following:

    • end their adoption leave by returning to work early and giving 8 weeks’ notice of this (“a curtailment notice”);

    • give the University a “binding notice” of the date when they will end their adoption leave; or

    • end Adoption Pay or Adoption Allowance.

    3.13 Shortening or Extending Adoption/Surrogacy Leave

    If the employee wishes to change their return to work date to return earlier than a date previously specified, they must give the University 8 weeks’ notice of this intention. If an employee gives less than 8 weeks' notice, their adoption leave may be extended for up to 8 weeks' after the date of giving notice of return, to allow the University to make any necessary arrangements. This extension must not extend beyond the 52-week period of adoption leave (or 63 week period if the employee has given notice of their intention to take Additional Adoption Leave).

    Adoption leave may be extended under certain circumstances, as follows:

    • the employee wishes to postpone their return date, and the University agrees, whether paid or unpaid.

    • there is an interruption of work or other reasons, for up to 8 weeks, as long as the University notifies the employee in advance of the reasons for the postponement and of the new date of return; and the new date of return does not extend beyond the 52-week period of maternity leave (or 63 week period if the employee has given notice of their intention to take University Maternity Leave).

    Note:  if the employee is ill when they are due to return to work following adoption/surrogacy leave,  normal contractual provisions for sick leave will apply.

    3.14 Notification of a return to work

    Although there is no legal requirement to give advance notice of an intention to return at the end of the 52 week Adoption/Surrogacy Leave period, an employee who intends to do so is urged to keep their line manager informed of their intentions so that appropriate cover arrangements can be made and workloads can be planned.

    HR will normally write to employees 8 weeks prior to their indicated return to work date to confirm their return to work arrangements.

    3.15 Changing hours of work

    Some members of staff returning to work following Adoption/Surrogacy Leave may wish to consider changing their hours of work or working patterns. All staff have a right to request to work flexibly. Any such change requests should be made on the Change in working hours or patterns of work request form. The University requires managers to only refuse requests if clear and genuine business grounds exist to justify that refusal. It is recommended that any change in working hours or patterns is submitted prior to the commencement of adoption/surrogacy leave, however, changes must be requested at least two months before the proposed change is to come into effect.

    Where reduced working hours (fte) are agreed, employees may wish to consider using some of their annual leave to retain their previous fraction for a period of time. This may help them to adjust to their return to work and new circumstances.

    Eg. It has been agreed that an employee can reduce their FTE from 1.0 to 0.5 on their return to work and they have 20 days outstanding annual leave. They therefore return to work on 1st September working 0.5 fte. However, for the period 1st September to end of October they are paid 1.0fte, as they use their leave entitlement. From 1st November, they will work 0.5 fte and be paid 0.5fte.

    Another alternative is to use annual leave within the period of unpaid leave and just prior to returning to work. (Once annual leave is started employees are unable to return to adoption/surrogacy leave.)

    4.1 Return to work Interview

    In addition to keeping the returning employee up-to-date on news regarding any changes affecting their role, the line manager will meet with the employee on their return to work to discuss their workload, objectives, etc, as appropriate to their role, and in light of any change in fte that has been requested and approved on their return. Managers and employees should refer to the Return to Work Induction Checklist for further guidance.

    Last Reviewed September 2016