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Shared Parental Leave for adoption or surrogacy

Last updated: 19 May 2021

If you are adopting with your partner, and you meet the eligibility requirements, you can take SPL. You and your partner can decide how to split up and share leave in the same way as other parents. There is a two week period of compulsory adoption leave, and thereafter partners can share up to 50 weeks of adoption leave and 37 weeks of Statutory Adoption Pay.

Parents adopting a child

Where a couple are adopting a child, and both are employed, one of them must decide to be the main adopter for the purposes of adoption leave. This is the person who can take adoption leave, which is now a day one right. This means you don’t have to have any length of service with your employer to take up to 52 weeks adoption leave.

It’s important that you are clear about which partner is going to exercise the right to adoption leave and the right to take paid time off for up to five adoption appointments. The other partner, if employed, can have unpaid time off for up to two appointments.

The other partner can, if they are also employed, take paternity leave (2 weeks taken within 56 days of the placement of the child with your family). You would need to meet the usual conditions for paternity leave – you need to have worked for your employer for 26 weeks by the end of the week you are matched for adoption.

After the first 2 weeks of adoption leave, if the couple want to share the rest of the leave they can do so, subject to meeting the same conditions as for other parents (they would need to have given notice in advance, see below).

Being a partner in this situation is the same as for a birth child, i.e. someone who is:

  • Married to the main adopter
  • The civil partner of the main adopter
  • Lives with the main adopter and the child in an ‘enduring family relationship’

Parents having a child through surrogacy

A parent having a child via a surrogate also has the right to adoption leave if they are employed. This applies if they have a parental order with their partner, or intend to apply for one (and expect it to be granted). At least one of the couple must be the biological parent of the child.

One of the couple can therefore take adoption leave and the other paternity leave, provided they meet all the conditions. Adoption leave is a day one right for employees. Paternity leave still requires that an employee has been employed for 26 weeks by the end of the 15th week before the baby is due.

In addition, for both statutory adoption and statutory paternity pay, you need to have average earnings of at least £120 a week.

Shared Parental Leave and Pay also apply if the partners meet the eligibility conditions.

Choices for adoptive parents

Adoptive parents, whether using a surrogate or being matched with a child, may need to make choices about which parent takes adoption leave and which paternity leave (where both are employed) as well as whether to use SPL.

When considering the options:

  • Statutory Adoption Pay is paid at 90% of average earnings for the first six weeks (from 5 April 2015) and then the statutory rate of £151.97* for the remaining 33 weeks.
  • Statutory Paternity Pay is paid at £151.97* a week.
  • Shared Parental Pay is paid at the same rate (and so will be 90% of earnings or £151.97*, whichever is less)

With all of these forms of leave, an employer may offer more generous contractual terms.

*These are the statutory rates set for the tax year 2020/21 – the rates usually change every year.

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The information on the law contained on this site is provided free of charge and does not, and is not intended to, amount to legal advice to any person on a specific case or matter. If you are not a solicitor, you are advised to obtain specific legal advice about your case or matter and not to rely solely on this information. Law and guidance is changing regularly in this area.