Adoption Leave Policy

This document provides a comprehensive summary of your adoption entitlements and responsibilities. For more detailed information on all aspects of maternity leave and pay please consult the University’s Adoption guidance.

Introduction

The University is committed to equality of opportunity in employment for all it’s staff and to developing work practices and human resource policies that support work-life balance. Reflecting this commitment the provisions of the University’s adoption leave policy exceed those laid down in law.

The aim of this policy is to inform staff of their rights both before and after the adoption of their child. The policy applies to all staff employed by Oxford Brookes, whether they work full or part-time.

Adoption Leave

To qualify for adoption leave an employee must be newly matched with a child for adoption by an adoption agency.

Adoption leave is available to:

  • Individuals who adopt
  • One member of a couple where a couple adopt jointly (the couple must choose which partner takes adoption leave). The partner of an individual who adopts, or the other member of a couple who are adopting jointly, may be entitled to paternity leave and pay (see Paternity leave policy).

Adoption leave and pay is not available in circumstances where a child is not newly matched for adoption, for example where a step-parent is adopting a partner’s child.

Leave can be taken from the date of the child’s placement (whether this is earlier or later than expected) or from a fixed date that can be up to 14 days before the expected date of placement.

Notification of an intention to take adoption leave

Employees should inform their line manager and the Directorate of Human Resources (using the notice of approval form) that they have been approved as an adoptee 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 the Directorate of Human Resources of their intention to take adoption leave within 7 days of being notified by their adoption agency that they have been matched with a child for adoption, unless this is not reasonably practicable. Employees need to tell their line manager and the Directorate of Human Resources:

  • When the child is expected to be placed with them.
  • When they want the adoption leave to start.

An employee must tell their line manager and the Directorate of Human Resources of the date they wish to start their adoption leave (using the leave and pay form) at least 28 days before the intended start date, or if this is not possible, as soon as is reasonably practicable.

The expected date of adoption must be confirmed by the ‘matching certificate’ from the employee’s adoption agency once it is issued.

Statutory adoption leave

To qualify for statutory adoption leave an employee must have worked continuously for the University for 26 weeks ending with the week in which they are notified of being matched with a child for adoption.

Qualifying staff are entitled to up to 26 weeks ordinary adoption leave (OAL) followed immediately by 26 weeks additional adoption leave (AAL).

Additional University adoption leave

Regardless of their length of service Oxford Brookes offers all employees adopting a child 26 weeks ordinary adoption leave (OAL) followed immediately by 26 weeks additional adoption leave (AAL).

In addition the University offers all employees an additional 11 weeks adoption leave on top of their statutory or University entitlement of 52 weeks making 63 weeks in total.

Starting adoption leave

An employee can start their adoption leave at any time from 14 days before the expected date of placement. They must inform the University of their intended start date (see the section on Adoption leave above).

An employee may change the date on which they starts their adoption leave provided they give written notification of the new date at least 28 days before the original start date, or at least 28 days before the new date whichever is earlier, or, if that is not possible, as soon as is reasonably practicable (using the leave and pay form).

Entitlement to adoption leave will be calculated from the expected or actual date adoption leave commences whichever is earlier.

Sick leave before adoption leave

If an employee is absent due to illness they can remain on sick leave up until the date of the child’s placement or until the date they have given as their start date for adoption leave whichever is earliest.

Contact during adoption leave

Reasonable contact

The University may contact an employee (and vice versa) while they are on adoption leave to discuss issues such as return to work plans or to keep them informed of important developments at the University or within their Faculties/Directorate or Department. The amount and type of contact must not be unreasonable.

Employees will be informed of any relevant promotion opportunities or job vacancies that arise during their maternity leave.

Keeping in touch days

Employees may, by agreement with their line manager, undertake up to 10 keeping in touch (KIT) days during their adoption leave. KIT days can be used to undertake work, training or any other work related activity.

KIT days cannot be undertaken during the 2 weeks following the birth of the baby.

KIT days are optional. There is no obligation for either the employee or the University to agree to a KIT day and an employee has the right to turn down a KIT day without suffering any detriment.

A KIT day is any day where work (or training) is undertaken up to normal contractual hours, e.g. if only 1 hour of work is undertaken this would count as 1 KIT day.

Employees will not be paid for KIT days (though existing adoption pay will not be affected). However for each KIT day taken the employee will receive time off in lieu (TOIL) equivalent to one day. TOIL can be used to extend the total period of adoption leave or can be used to provide additional leave during the leave year in which the employee returns to work. For example if an employee were due to return to work on Monday 7 May and had worked 10 Kit days, for payroll purposes she would be treated as returning on the 7 May but would not physically return until Monday 21 May.

Once the KIT days have been used the employee will lose a week’s SAP for any week in which they work for the University.

Adoption pay

Occupational (University) adoption pay

Employees adopting a child with 26 weeks or more continuous service ending with the week in which they are notified of being matched with a child for adoption are entitled to 13 weeks full pay (including the statutory adoption pay element) and may also receive 13 weeks at 50% plus statutory adoption pay, provided they are entitled to SAP. No combination of payments will exceed full pay.

The 13 weeks at half pay is optional and dependent on an intention to physically return to work for at least 3 months pro rata after the period of adoption leave any time off on annual leave or a career break, for example, doesn't count towards the 3 months pro rata.

If an employee elects to receive the enhanced pay and subsequently decides not to return to work they will be asked to repay it.

If an employee elects not to receive the enhanced pay during their leave and then decides to return to work for at least 3 months, the whole of the payment will be made on completion of 3 months or pro rata for staff working part-time.

Statutory adoption pay

Employees adopting a child with 26 weeks or more continuous service ending with the week in which they are notified of being matched with a child for adoption, and whose earnings exceed the national insurance threshold are entitled to statutory adoption pay (SAP). SAP is paid for 39 weeks whether or not the employee intends to return to work. To qualify for statutory adoption pay and occupational adoption pay for eight weeks prior to the end of the qualifying week, which is the end of the week in which the member of staff is notified as being matched with a child for adoption, the member of staff must have been earning on average not less than the lower earnings limit for national insurance purposes.

To obtain statutory adoption pay the employee must give the University at least 28 days notice of their intention to take adoption leave and must provide the ‘matching certificate’ from the employee’s adoption agency within 28 days of the start of the adoption pay period.

Once entitlement to SAP has been established the University must pay the full 39 weeks even if the employee resigns before or during their period of adoption leave. SAP is the same as the standard rate of statutory maternity pay.

Staff adopting a child with less than 26 weeks continuous service ending with the matching week

Employees with less than 26 weeks continuous service ending with the week in which they are notified of being matched with a child for adoption are not entitled to adoption pay.

They may be able to seek financial assistance and support from their local Authority. Additional financial support may be available through Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit or Tax Credits. Further information is available through local Job Centres.

Terms and conditions of employment

Annual Leave

To avoid the risk of unused annual leave being lost it should normally be taken prior to an employee going on adoption leave. Up to five days annual leave may be carried forward from one leave year to another with the agreement of the employee’s line manager.

In exceptional circumstances and with prior agreement from the Dean of Faculty/Director employees may carry forward a greater number of days.

Annual Leave continues to accumulate while an employee is on paid or unpaid adoption leave and can be taken in the normal way. It accrues at the rate of hours worked before adoption leave.

If an employee does not return to work following their adoption period annual leave will be accrued for the first 26 weeks of the adoption leave period only, regardless of their length of service.

Payment for the accrued leave will be made after resignation. This will include, if applicable, an allowance for Bank Holidays and Concessionary Days.

Pension arrangements

Local Government Pension scheme

During the paid part of adoption leave an employee will continue to pay superannuation contributions and to build up reckonable service at the same rate as before adoption leave commenced even though full pay will not be received.

The unpaid part of adoption leave is not counted as pensionable service. An employee will be given the opportunity to repay their pension contributions for the relevant period once they have returned to work.

Teachers’ Superannuation scheme

All paid adoption leave (including SAP) is treated as pensionable.

Contributions during the unpaid part of leave are optional and can be paid using the Current Added Years arrangements at the time of absence or when the employee returns to work using the Past Added Years arrangements.

Union membership

When paid adoption leave finishes union contributions will also cease. The employee must contact their union should they wish their contributions to continue.

Sick pay during and at the end of adoption leave

Employees are not entitled to sick leave or unpaid leave whilst receiving statutory adoption pay. 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.

Pay rises

Employees will, on their return to work, receive any pay rises that have been awarded between the eight weeks before the date of the child's placement and the end of adoption leave, including additional adoption leave.

Redundancy

If, during an employee’s adoption leave, their post is made redundant they will be offered suitable alternative work if it is available.

The new role they are offered must be both suitable and appropriate for them to do in the circumstances and the capacity and place in which they are employed. The terms and conditions of employment must be no less favourable than those of their previous job.

If the University has a suitable alternative vacancy available but fails to offer it to the employee the redundancy will be regarded as unfair dismissal.

If the University offers the employee a suitable alternative vacancy and they unreasonably refuse it the employee may forfeit their right to a redundancy payment.

An employee who feels they have been unfairly selected for redundancy on grounds related to their adoption of a child is entitled to make a complaint of unfair dismissal through the Grievance procedure.

Returning to work

An employee returning to work after ordinary adoption leave is entitled to have the same job and the same terms and conditions of employment as if they had not been absent unless a redundancy situation has arisen during the employee’s absence (see the section on Redundancy above).

An employee returning to work after additional adoption leave is entitled to have the same job and the same terms and conditions of employment as if they had not been absent unless a redundancy situation has arisen during the employee’s absence (see the section on Redundancy above) or unless it is not reasonably practicable for her to return to her old job, in which case she will be offered a similar job on terms and conditions which are not less favourable than her original job.

Notification of a return to work

Once an employee has notified the University of the date on which she wishes to start her adoption leave the University will in turn notify the employee within 28 days of the date on which the leave will be expected to end. This will normally be 52 weeks (one year) from the start of adoption leave.

An employee who intends to return to work at the end of the statutory 52 weeks leave period does not need to give notice of, or confirm their return to work.

An employee who intends to return to work before the end of the 52 weeks or who intends to take advantage of all or part of the additional 11 weeks University adoption leave must give 8 weeks notice of their intention to return and/or to take the additional leave which need not be in writing.

Employees have the right to change their days of return but must in all circumstances give at least 8 weeks notice before the revised or original date of return whichever is the earlier.

If less than 8 weeks notice is given the University may postpone the employee’s return to work to give the necessary 8 weeks notice or until the end of the adoption leave period, whichever is earlier.

Employees who decide they do not wish to return to work must give at least the notice period set out in their contract of employment.

Extending additional adoption leave

Additional adoption leave may be extended under certain circumstances which are as follows:

If the employee is ill when they are due to return to work in which case normal contractual provisions will apply.

The University may postpone an employee’s return due to an interruption of work or for other reasons for up to eight weeks as long as they have notified them in advance of the reasons for the postponement and of the new date of return.

The University may not postpone the date of return beyond the 52 week period of maternity leave (or 63 week period if they have been notified by the employee of their intention to take University adoption leave).

Combinations are possible which may mean that the total extension of leave is more than eight weeks.

Return to work interview

An employee returning from adoption leave will have, on their first day back, a return to work interview with their line manager and/or a representative from the Directorate of Human Resources.

 

Updated Jan 2013