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2 Employment - updated version available December '16

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1. Introduction

2. Do I need a contract of employment?

3. Do I have the right to work in the UK?

4. What is the least I should be paid?

5. How many hours can my employer make me work?

6. Does my employer have to recognise my trade union?

7. What if I've been dismissed unfairly?

8. Bringing a statutory claim for unfair dismissal

9. What if I've been made redundant?

10. Bringing a contractual claim for wrongful dismissal

11. What if I've been discriminated against?

12. What are my rights if I work part-time?

13. What are my rights if I'm having a baby?

14. Can I take leave as a new Father?

15. What are my rights if I'm adopting a child?

You have the right to adoption leave and pay if you are:

  • adopting on your own; or
  • a member of a couple adopting together.

If you are a couple adopting together, you can choose which of you takes the adoption leave - the other person may be entitled to paternity leave and pay.

To be able to take adoption leave and receive adoption pay you must:

  • be newly matched with a child for adoption by an approved adoption agency (you cannot receive it if you are adopting a stepchild or foster child); and
  • have worked continuously for your employer for 26 weeks leading up to the week in which you are told you have been matched with a child for adoption.

Employers may ask you to provide a 'matching certificate' from your adoption agency to prove that you are eligible for adoption leave and pay.

What leave can I take?
Adoption leave consists of 26 weeks' Ordinary Adoption Leave (OAL), which can be followed immediately by up to 26 weeks' additional adoption leave. You will usually be paid during the period of OAL (see 'How much money can I receive?').

Additional adoption leave is usually unpaid, unless your employment contract says otherwise.

You can begin your OAL on:

  • the date of the child's placement (even if this is earlier or later than expected); or
  • a date you choose that can be up to 14 days before the date the child is due to be placed with you, but no later than the actual placement date.

You must tell your employer in writing that you want to take OAL, saying:

  • the date the child is expected to be placed with you; and
  • the date you want your leave to begin.

You can take only one period of adoption leave at a time, no matter how many children are being placed with you as part of the same arrangement. If the child's placement with you ends during your adoption leave (for example, because they return to the adoption agency or the placement is cancelled), you can continue your leave for up to eight weeks after the placement finishes.

How much money can I receive?
During OAL, you should receive Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP) from your employers:

  • If you earn £116 or more a week before tax, you will receive £116 a week in SAP;
  • If you earn between £82 and £116 a week, you will receive 90 per cent of your average weekly earnings; or
  • If you earn less than £82 a week, you will not receive SAP. However, you may be able to receive other state benefits. For more about benefits, see the CLS Direct leaflet 'Welfare Benefits'.

You must tell your employer within seven days of being told by the adoption agency that you have been matched with a child for adoption:

  • when the child is expected to be placed with you; and
  • when you want your leave to start.

You must give your employer at least 28 days' notice of when you want SAP to start (unless this is really not possible). You can change the date you want your leave to start if you give your employer at least 28 days' notice (unless this is really not possible).

Within 28 days of you telling your employers when you want adoption leave to start, they must write to tell you the date they expect you to return to work if you take all the adoption leave you are entitled to.

During OAL, you are entitled to your normal terms and conditions of employment, except for those relating to wages and salary (because in most cases you will be receiving SAP during this period). However, your contract may give you the right to adoption pay which is better than SAP.

During any period of additional adoption leave, you continue to be employed under your contract, but your right to enforce most of the terms of the contract is suspended while you are away from work, except for the terms covering notice, confidentiality, mutual trust and confidence, redundancy, and disciplinary and grievance procedures. The law protects you from being dismissed, or treated unfairly, for taking or wanting to take adoption leave.

If you plan to go back to work at the end of your full ordinary and additional adoption leave, you do not need to give any special notice that you are returning to work. But if you decide to return to work before the end of your full ordinary and additional adoption leave period, you must give your employer 28 days’ notice of the date you plan to return to work.

After OAL, you are entitled to return to the job you had before you took adoption leave. After additional adoption leave you have the right to return to the same job or, if this is not possible, to a job that is suitable and appropriate for your skills and experience.

If you are made redundant during adoption leave, you should be offered any other suitable job that is available with your employer. If you are offered an alternative job:

  • the work must be of a kind that is suitable and appropriate for you; and
  • the terms and conditions should be no worse than you had before.

16. What other leave can I get after my child is born or adopted?

17. Can I change my working arrangements if I have children?

18. Can I take time off if I am someone's carer?

19. Further Help

20. About this leaflet







This leaflet is published by the Legal Services Commission (LSC). It was written in association with Ian Hunter, Head of the Employment Department, Bird & Bird, Solicitors.

The leaflets are regularly updated but the law may have changed since they were printed so the information in them may be incorrect or out of date.

Leaflet Version: January 2019




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