Here at the Co-op we know that adopting a new child and having a baby through surrogacy is an important and exciting time and we want to support you. This policy sets out colleague entitlements to Adoption Leave, and pay, and time off to attend appointments. There are some important things that you need to know and do to help us make all the arrangements for your Adoption Leave and pay – so talk to your manager if you have any questions or concerns or you can speak to HR Services on 0330 606 1001.

If you’re adopting/entering into a surrogacy arrangement jointly with your partner, only one of you (known as the Primary Adopter) will get Adoption Leave and the other (known as the Co-Adopter) may be able to take Paternity/Non-Pregnant Parent/Co-Adopter Leave – see our Paternity/Non-Pregnant Parent/Co-Adopter Leave Policy for more details. It’s up to you to decide who will be the Primary Adopter and Co-Adopter.

We understand that for colleagues exploring and/or going through the process of adoption or surrogacy, it can be a very difficult and emotionally challenging time. We are committed to supporting you, so please be open with your manager about what you are going through and what support you need.

We understand that things can move very quickly when adopting through fostering/concurrent planning, and that it can be a difficult and stressful time. You may get very little notice of a fostering to adopt/concurrent planning placement. Equally, the placements may not work out, and/or may not progress to adoption. Please talk to your manager about what support you need.

Please note, if you’re fostering a child, but not as part of a “fostering to adopt” or “concurrent planning” arrangement, then you won’t be eligible for Adoption Leave.

Crucial bits

Adoption Leave

If you are the Primary Adopter, and a child has been placed with you for adoption, you are adopting through fostering for adoption/concurrent planning, or you are having a baby through a surrogacy arrangement, you can take up to 52 weeks of Adoption Leave – it doesn’t matter how long you’ve worked here or how many hours you work. Adoptions must take place through a UK or overseas adoption agency - private adoptions won’t qualify. You also can’t take Adoption Leave if your child’s not being newly matched with you, like adopting a stepchild.

Just so it’s clear, you can only take one period of Adoption Leave for each adoption placement/surrogacy arrangement, even if it is in respect of more than one child.

Starting and ending Adoption Leave

You can start your Adoption Leave on any day of the week either during the week that your child is placed with you, or up to 14 days before the adoption placement.

If you’re adopting through fostering to adopt/concurrent planning, you can start adoption leave at the start of the fostering to adopt/concurrent care placement, or you can wait and take it at the point an adoption placement order is granted. If you want to wait until an adoption placement order is granted, talk to your manager to see how else they can support you in the meantime. Your manager may be able to agree some unpaid leave, a flexible working arrangement, and/or you may be able to use some of your holiday entitlement. However please be aware, this may affect your entitlement to Co-op Adoption Pay and Statutory Adoption Pay as this is calculated based on earnings during the eight weeks ending on the week that your fostering to adopt/concurrent placement is confirmed rather than when the placement order is granted.

If you are having a baby through a surrogacy arrangement, Adoption Leave can begin the day the baby is born, or the following day if you were at work.

You do not have to use the 52 weeks Adoption Leave but you must take a minimum of two weeks Adoption Leave.

If you’re adopting or entering a surrogacy arrangement jointly with your partner, subject to eligibility requirements, if you like, you can end your Adoption Leave early and take Shared Parental Leave instead. This allows you to share your Adoption Leave entitlement with your partner during the first year of adoption/surrogacy birth. Both you and your partner need to be eligible – see our Shared Parental Leave Policy for more details.

It’s really important that you follow the steps below for telling us about your adoption. If you don’t, you might not be able to start and/or end your Adoption Leave when you want.

  • Where adopting, within seven days of being told by the adoption agency/Local Authority that a child’s going to be placed with you, or receiving notification of a fostering to adopt/concurrent planning placement, you need to tell your manager that you’re adopting and want to take Adoption Leave. Let your manager know when you think the adoption placement will start and also when you’d like your Adoption Leave to begin

  • Where entering into a surrogacy arrangement, you must tell your manager no later than the 15th week before your baby is due that you intend to take Adoption Leave

  • Then, in both cases, either you or your manager need to contact HR Services on 0330 606 1001 to let them know about your adoption, so agree with your manager who will do this

  • HR Services will send you an AL1 - Application for Adoption Leave (AL1) Form. You’ll need to fill this in and ask your manager to sign it and then send it back to them with either:

    • a copy of your Matching Certificate (for standard adoption),
    • written notification of fostering to adopt/concurrent planning placement or adoption placement order (if adopting through fostering to adopt or concurrent planning), or
    • a copy of your Surrogacy Agreement

If you’re adopting/entering into a surrogacy arrangement jointly with your partner we’ll ask you to confirm on the AL1 that your partner isn’t taking Adoption Leave for this placement, even if they work for a different employer.

  • HR Services will then send you an AL3 form which confirms your Adoption Pay entitlement (see below for more information about Adoption Pay) and also when your 52 weeks’ Adoption Leave entitlement will end. Of course, you don’t have to take the full 52 weeks of leave – if you want to come back to work before this, you can agree an earlier return date with your manager

  • If you change your mind and want to come back on a different date to the one you agreed with your manager, you’ll need to write to them at least eight weeks before you’re due to return. If you want to come back earlier and don’t give us this notice, we might need to delay your return for up to eight weeks, but it won’t be past your original agreed return date

  • If your Adoption Leave’s disrupted, for example if the child isn’t placed with you or the placement ends early, then you must tell your manager straight away and send them a letter to confirm this. You’ll still get Adoption Leave and pay for up to eight weeks after the disruption happens, although not if this is beyond the original end date of your Adoption Leave. HR Services will write to you to confirm when you should return to work. If a further child is placed with you for adoption during or shortly after a period of Adoption Leave, you will be entitled to Adoption Leave again

If you have more than one job with the Co-op, the start and end dates of your Adoption Leave need to be the same for each of your roles. You need to tell both of your managers about your Adoption Leave, but the process will usually be handled by your primary manager – the one for the role you’ve got the most contracted hours. Your primary manager will keep your other managers informed.

Adoption Pay

Here at the Co-op we give enhanced adoption pay (Co-op Adoption Pay, CAP) if you qualify for Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP) and you’re employed by us at the point your CAP will start. To qualify for SAP you’ll need to:

  • have been working here for 26 weeks by the end of the week in which you’re notified that you’ve been matched with a child for adoption/notified of a fostering for adoption/concurrent planning placement, or in the case of a surrogacy arrangement, by the end of the 15th week before your baby’s due: and
  • be earning at least £120 a week on average*.

The table below shows how much adoption pay you will get:

Adoption Pay Table

*Average earnings are based on what you’ve been paid during the eight weeks ending on the week that your adoption placement is confirmed, or in the case of a surrogacy arrangement, what you’ve been paid during the eight weeks ending on the 15th week before your baby’s due.

If you’ve got more than one Co-op job, we’ll calculate your entitlement to CAP and SAP based on your earliest start date with Co-op, and we’ll use your combined earnings across all of your roles with the Co-op to calculate your pay.

If you don’t qualify for SAP, HR Services will send you a SAP1 form. Additional financial support might be available through Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit or Tax Credits – you can find out more from your local Jobcentre Plus.

Just so you’re aware, if you leave the Co-op while you’re still getting CAP it will stop on the date you leave, unless you leave because of redundancy. You’ll still get any remaining weeks SAP that you’re entitled to.

If you’ve got more than one Co-op job and leave one role and not another, the amount of CAP for the role you’ve left will stop. You’ll continue to get CAP for your remaining Co-op role.

CAP is a discretionary benefit and isn’t part of your terms and conditions, unless your contract says otherwise. This means that the Co-op has the right to change or withdraw CAP at any time, but we won’t do this if you are already receiving it.

If you qualify for CAP or SAP this will be paid for the first 39 weeks of your Adoption Leave, through our normal pay run. If you don’t qualify, you may not get a payslip during your leave.

Things to think about

Pre-adoption/Antenatal appointments

If you’re the Primary Adopter you can take time off work to go to up to five adoption appointments – it doesn’t matter how long you’ve worked here or how many hours you work. Adoption appointments are those that have been made by an adoption agency or Local Authority relating to a child being placed for adoption, or for a fostering for adoption/concurrent care placement.

You can take up to 6.5 hours’ leave for each appointment, including travelling, waiting and attendance time, but we expect that most appointments won’t last more than half a day. It would be helpful if you could try to arrange these outside your normal working hours if you can. If not, then you’ll get paid time off to attend. Let your manager know as early as you can when your appointments are and try to arrange them at the start or end of the day if possible. They might ask to see your appointment card or email/text confirmation to confirm things.

If you’re the Co-Adopter, you can take unpaid time off work to go to two adoption appointments.

If you’re having a baby using a surrogate and applying for a parental order, you can take unpaid time off work to go to two antenatal appointments with the surrogate. These include medical appointments, relaxation and parentcraft classes which have been recommended or made on the advice of a GP, midwife, or nurse.

For both the above, try to give your manager as much notice or your appointments as you can. You can take up to 6.5 hours leave for each appointment, including travelling, waiting and attendance time, but we expect that most appointments won’t last more than half a day. Although this time off is unpaid, we’ll do our best to limit the effect wherever we can, like agreeing for you to make up the time where it’s possible or agreeing for you to take holiday.

Adopting from overseas

If you’re adopting a child from overseas, the criteria for getting Adoption Leave and pay are the same for adoptions from within the UK. But there are differences in how you need to tell us that you’re adopting and want to take leave.

Within 28 days of getting your Official Notification that the adoption’s been approved by the relevant UK authority, you should tell your manager the date of this notification and when your child is expected to arrive in the UK. Then, within 28 days of your child arriving in the UK, you’ll need to let your manager know the actual date that they arrived.

You must give your manager at least 28 days’ notice of when you want your Adoption Leave to start and how much leave you want to take. You can start your Adoption Leave when your child arrives in the UK, or up to 28 days after.

Pensions

If you’re a member of a Co-op pension scheme, then you’ll continue to be a member during your Adoption Leave. Whilst you’re getting CAP/SAP your pension contributions will be based on the actual pay you receive each period, but the Co-op’s contributions will be based on your normal full pay. During any unpaid period of your Adoption Leave, all pension contributions will stop. Visit https://colleagues.coop.co.uk/pensions or contact the Pensions Department for more information.

Other benefits

If you get any other benefits that you contribute to through a salary sacrifice arrangement, like childcare vouchers or a season ticket loan, contact HR Services to find out how Adoption Leave may affect these.

If you get any other contractual non-salary benefits, such as a car or medical insurance, these will continue throughout your Adoption Leave.

Holidays

Your holiday entitlement will continue to accrue while you’re on Adoption Leave. If your bank holidays aren’t already included in your holiday entitlement, you’ll also get days in lieu of any bank holidays which fall during your Adoption Leave.

Talk to your manager before you start your Adoption Leave about taking your holidays either before or at the end of your leave and agree dates. If you return to work too close to the end of the holiday year to take all your holidays, speak to your manager about carrying forward any remaining days.

Keeping in touch

It’s good to stay in touch with your colleagues and your manager during your Adoption Leave. We’ll try to keep you updated about any important changes or other things you need to know whilst you’re away from work. Agree with your manager the best way of keeping in touch.

You can have up to 10 Keeping in Touch (KIT) days during your Adoption Leave, which let you work without losing your entitlement to CAP or SAP. KIT days need to be agreed with your manager first and can be used for anything that would normally be part of your job, including training courses and announcements. You can take them at any point during your Adoption Leave, apart from the first two weeks. You don’t have to arrange any KIT days, and we’ll never insist that you work a KIT day.

On a KIT day you’ll get paid your full contractual rate of pay for the hours you work. If you’re in the SAP period of your leave, your pay will be ‘topped up’ to your normal hourly rate. This means that payment for a KIT day won’t ever be more than a normal day’s pay. Just so you’re aware, even if you don’t work a full day, this will still count as one of your 10 KIT days.

Returning to work after Adoption Leave

Unless there’s a business reorganisation – in which case we’d consult with you about what this means for you – you’ll usually be able to come back to the same role and with the same terms and conditions of employment that you had before your Adoption Leave.

Your manager will get in touch with you before you’re due to come back to work to talk about the arrangements for your return. You might want to try and arrange a KIT day with your manager, so you can come into work and discuss things with them.

If you need further support

The Adoption Leave Process contains a step-by-step guide to Adoption Leave so everyone’s clear about the steps that need to be followed when a colleague is adopting.

If you have any questions about Adoption Leave, please speak to your manager or HR Services If managers need advice they can contact HR Services.

We know that it can be challenging to balance having a new child with your work. Flexible working might help - you can read more in our Flexible Working Policy.

Adopting a child can mean big changes in your personal life and you may need extra support and guidance in adapting to these. Remember we have an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) who can provide colleagues with support. You can contact the EAP on 0800 069 8854. It’s independent and totally confidential. And there’s no charge for Co-op colleagues.