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How to understand the Adoption Leave and Pay you may be entitled to

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Adoption Leave and Pay can be complicated, so below we explain how you qualify. Employees who have 26 weeks service with their employer by the week they are notified of being matched with a child and who meet the other criteria, detailed below, will be eligible. Workers and freelancers are not generally entitled to Adoption Leave, although workers may be entitled to Statutory Adoption Pay and your employer may be able to give you unpaid leave instead.
What you'll need: 
A copy of the ‘matching certificate’ your Adoption Agency will give you when you are matched with a child.
A copy of your Employment Contract or Staff Handbook.
1: 
To qualify for Adoption Leave and Pay you must have 26 weeks service with your employer by the week you are notified of being ‘matched’ with a child and either must be an individual who is adopting or part of a couple adopting jointly. If you are part of a couple, you must choose which partner takes adoption leave (both of you are not eligible). You must also have been newly matched with a child for adoption, by an adoption agency that is recognised in the UK.
2: 
If you qualify you have the right to 52 weeks of Statutory Adoption Leave (26 week Ordinary and 26 weeks Additional Leave) and 39 weeks of Statutory Adoption Pay. You must tell your employer you have been ‘matched’ with a child within 7 days of notification if this is possible and give them the ‘matching certificate’ from your adoption agency.
3: 
You must also tell your employer what date you expect the child to be placed with you and when you intend to start adoption leave and pay. You can choose when to start your Adoption Leave, either from the date of the child’s placement or from a date that can be up to 14 days before the expected date of placement. You can change your mind about when you want to start adoption leave as long as you give your employer 28 days notice.
4: 
Additional adoption leave starts immediately after Ordinary Adoption Leave and continues for a further 26 weeks. You do not have to take Additional Maternity Leave; if you do take it there must be no gap between the two. Additional Adoption Leave is usually unpaid (any Statutory Adoption Pay you are entitled to will end after 39 weeks; i.e. during the Additional Adoption Leave period), unless your Employer gives you contractual rights to pay during this period.
5: 
When your Employer writes to you setting out your return date – which they must do within 28 days of you telling them you are adopting - they will assume that you will take your whole 52 weeks adoption leave entitlement (Ordinary and Additional). If you agree your return date and later wish to change your mind you must give your employer 8 weeks notice of your new return to work date.
6: 
Details of Statutory Adoption Pay – it is paid for 39 weeks at 90% of your earnings up to a maximum of £124.88 per week (from April 2010). It will be paid through the payroll, with normal tax and national insurance contributions deducted. Your employer, however, may offer more generous payments during the Adoption Leave/Pay period.
7: 
Since 1st April 2007 ‘Keeping in Touch’ days have been introduced which means that during either your Ordinary or Additional Adoption Leave, you can now do up to 10 days work for your employer, as long as both parties agree to the work being done (and what work will be done and how much you will be paid for the work). ‘Work’ could include anything relevant, e.g. training, attending conferences/meetings. You will not lose entitlement to Adoption Leave or Pay during these days.
8: 
If you return to work at the end of Ordinary Adoption Leave period you are entitled to return to your original job with the same terms and conditions. If you return at the end of Additional Adoption Leave you are also entitled to your original job. However, if it is not reasonably practical to return to this job your employer must offer you an alternative job with the same terms and conditions you had previously. If your employer cannot offer you suitable alternative work, you may be entitled to redundancy pay.
9: 
You can also take 4 weeks of Parental Leave at the end of your adoption leave, if you want more time off, without affecting your returning ‘rights’.
10: 
If you decide not to return to work at all you must give your normal ‘contractual’ notice to resign.
Tips: 
There are no age restrictions to receiving Adoption Leave or Pay.
If you do not qualify for Statutory Adoption Leave or Pay your Employer may agree to give you unpaid leave or you may be able to take holiday or parental leave.
Holiday Entitlement during Adoption Leave. It is generally understood that employees cannot take holiday and be on adoption leave at the same time. Therefore you must take your holiday entitlement before you start adoption leave or at the end. Employees are now entitled to their full contractual holiday entitlement for the holiday year when they are on Ordinary and Additional Adoption Leave.
While on Adoption Leave (both types) your Employment terms and conditions and any benefits (excluding salary/pay/wages) remain the same. If your Employer pays into a Pension Scheme for you they must continue making their contributions during the 26 weeks of your Ordinary Adoption Leave plus for any time you continue to receive Statutory Adoption Pay (another 13 weeks) or any time you receive any ‘contractual’ Adoption Pay.
Warnings: 
You will not eligible for Adoption Leave or Pay if you adopt privately or have a child through surrogacy. It is also not available if you adopt a child that is not newly-matched, i.e. if you adopt your partner’s child as a step-parent.
If you adopt a child that you are fostering you must be ‘matched’ for adoption through a recognised agency to be eligible for Adoption Leave and Pay.
Adoption Leave and Pay entitlements for those who are adopting from overseas is slightly different – please see the Direct Gov link below for more details.

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