As part of the Government’s approach to modern workplaces, there are some upcoming legal changes to adoption leave, pay and the right to time off to attend adoption appointments that are due to come into force from 5 April 2015:
1. Entitlement to adoption leave
From 5 April 2015, employees will no longer need to have 26 weeks’ continuous service to be eligible for statutory adoption leave. Employees who have a child matched for adoption on or after this date will be eligible to leave from day one of their employment.
2. Changes to adoption pay
Adopters who have a child matched with them on or after 5 April 2015 may be entitled to receive enhanced statutory adoption pay of 90% of their normal earnings for the first six weeks of leave. To qualify, they must satisfy certain criteria including having 26 weeks’ continuous service at the date of matching. Up to 33 weeks of remaining leave can be paid at the rate set by the Government or 90% of weekly earnings, whichever is lower. This brings adoption pay into line with the existing statutory regime for maternity pay.
3. Surrogacy and partners
Employees who are the intended parents in a surrogacy situation may also qualify for adoption leave and pay from 5 April 2015. This extends the rights to those applying for Parental Orders who would previously not have been entitled to adoption leave or pay.
As is the case just now, adoption leave and pay will continue to be available to only one adoptive parent, even in cases of joint-adoption. The adopter’s partner, spouse or joint-adopter may be entitled to receive paternity leave and pay. The family may also choose to opt into the shared parental leave and pay regime as explained below.
4. Time off work to attend adoption appointments
From 5 April 2015, adopters have the right to time off work to attend adoption appointments. The primary adopter has the right to paid time off to attend up to five adoption appointments that relate to being matched with a child. In the case of joint-adopters, the other adopter is entitled to unpaid time off to attend up to two appointments. All appointments attended may be for up to six and a half hours at a time. Employers can ask for a declaration from their employee confirming the reason for the absence and their eligibility to the leave. The right is available to employees from day one of employment.
Acas have produced some helpful guidance on this - this can be accessed by clicking here.
5. Shared Parental Leave
Parents of a child placed for adoption from 5 April 2015 may also be able to opt into the new system of shared parental leave and pay, subject to meeting certain minimum criteria. This will enable parents to share up to 50 weeks of leave and 37 weeks of pay in the year after the child is placed with them for adoption.
Our comprehensive guide to Shared Parental Leave is available by clicking here.
For further information on any of the issues outlined above, please contact a member of the Employment team.