During adoption leave

This guidance was last updated on September 2016

This section explains:

  • what an employee has to tell their department while they are on adoption leave;
  • contact arrangements between department and employee during adoption leave;
  • what work can be undertaken when an employee is on adoption leave.

Contact during adoption leave

Departments and their employees will often find it helpful, before adoption leave starts, to discuss arrangements for staying in touch with each other. This might include agreements on the way in which contact will happen, how often, and who will initiate the contact. It might also cover the reasons for making contact and the types of things that might be discussed. There is a section on the Adoption Leave Plan for the employee to note their preferences in this respect.

During the adoption leave period, a department may make reasonable contact with an employee and, in the same way, an employee may make contact with their department. What constitutes "reasonable" contact will vary according to the circumstances. Some employees will be happy to stay in close touch with the department and will not mind frequent contact. Others, however, will prefer to keep such contact to a minimum. The frequency and nature of the contact will depend on a number of factors such as the nature of the work and the employee's post, any agreement that the employer and employee might have reached before adoption leave began as to contact and whether either party needs to communicate important information to the other, such as, for example, news of changes at the workplace that might affect the employee on their return.

The contact between department and employee can be made in any way that best suits either or both of them. For example, it could be by telephone, email, letter, involving the employee making a visit to the workplace, or in other ways.

Departments should note that they must, in any event, keep the employee informed of information relating to their job that they would normally be made aware of if they were working (such as changes to terms and conditions of employment).

Work during the adoption leave period – ‘Keeping In Touch’ (KIT) days

An employee may, by agreement with their department, do up to ten days' work - known as ‘Keeping in Touch’ (KIT) days - under their contract of employment during the adoption leave period. Such days are different to the reasonable contact that departments and employees may have with each other, as during KIT days employees can actually carry out work for the department, for which they will be paid.

Any work carried out during the adoption pay period (39 weeks) or adoption leave period (52 weeks) will count as a whole KIT day, up to the ten day maximum. In other words, if an employee comes in for a one hour training session and does no other work that day, they will have used one of their KIT days. Once an employee has exhausted their ten KIT days, if they do any other work they will lose a week's SAP for the week in which the have done that work.

The type of work that the employee undertakes on KIT days is a matter for agreement between them and their department. They may be used for any activity which would ordinarily be classed as work under their contract but would be particularly useful, eg in enabling the employee to attend a conference, undertake a training activity or attend for a team meeting, for example.

This work during adoption leave may only take place by agreement between both the department and the employee. A department may not require an employee to work during their adoption leave if they do not want to, nor does an employee have the right to work KIT days if their department does not agree to them.

The KIT days can be undertaken at any stage during the adoption leave period, by agreement with the department with the exception that during the first two weeks after the child's placement (the compulsory adoption leave period) no work is permitted.

If it has been agreed with the department that the employee would like to work KIT days during their adoption leave, the employee will need to make sure that they respond when their department offers them this work. The department should give as much notice as possible of the work that they would like the employee to do and clarify what they will be paid for the work they do.

Payment for keeping in touch (KIT) days

As KIT days allow work to be carried out under the employee's contract of employment, the employee is entitled to be paid for that work.

If an employee attends for work, they should be paid the equivalent of their normal hourly rate for the hours they work on the day in question. Therefore, during the period of adoption leave that they are being paid at the rate of full pay, no further payment would be due. If an employee works their KIT day(s) during a period of SAP, their statutory pay should be enhanced to full pay, and if work takes place during a period of unpaid adoption leave, they should be paid the equivalent of their normal hourly rate for the hours they work. An employee will continue to be paid their SAP for the week in which the work is done.

There is a maximum limit of ten KIT days allowed under the adoption leave regulations and once an employee has used up their ten KIT days and they then do any further work, they will lose a week's SAP for the week in which they have done that work.

The hours to be worked must be agreed in advance between the department and the employee. The pay for this work should also be confirmed by the department in advance.

Any questions from departments about payment during KIT days should be directed to their HR Business Partner.

Notification of change of return to work dates while on adoption leave

Unless otherwise notified, the date on which an employee returns to work will normally be the first working day 52 weeks after the adoption leave began. The actual return date will normally be recorded in the Adoption Leave Plan.

(i) Return to work before the end of the adoption leave period

If the employee wishes to return to work before the end of their full adoption leave period (this will normally be the end date that the department confirmed to the employee before they went on leave), they must give their department at least eight weeks' notice of their return to work. This notice requirement applies throughout the whole period of leave. The notice period is the minimum that the department is entitled to expect, but the department may, at its discretion, accept less notice

If the employee tries to return to work without having given the appropriate eight weeks' notice, the department may postpone the employee's return until the end of the eight weeks' notice period. However, the department may not postpone the return to a date later than the end of the adoption leave period.

(ii) Return to work later than previously notified

An employee who has notified their department that they wish to return to work before the end of their 52 weeks' entitlement to adoption leave, is entitled to change their mind. However, in these circumstances, they should give their department notice of this new, later date at least eight weeks before the earlier date.

(iii) Employees who do not wish to return to work after adoption leave

An employee who does not wish to return to work after their adoption leave must give their department the notice of termination required by their contract of employment. However, if an employee is in the position to do so, it would be helpful to the department if they can give as much notice as possible of their intention to leave their employment.

Please note: If an employee does not return to work for at least three months following the adoption leave period, departments may reclaim the whole of the non-statutory element of adoption pay.  If an employee cannot return to work because their fixed-term contract has ended, it would not be expected that they would be required to repay any of their adoption pay.

Being paid

Employees on adoption leave will be paid in exactly the same way that their salary would be paid if they were at work, on the day of the month, as set by Payroll. Whilst on full-pay adoption leave, SAP is included within pay. It is not paid in addition to full-pay.

The employee's pay slip will be sent to their department (unless a different arrangement has been agreed) and the employee can ask their department to forward it to their home address.

If an employee is sick during their adoption leave, they cannot claim sick pay. If the employee is sick when their adoption leave is due to end, they will be deemed to be an employee who has returned to work but who is on sick leave under the University's sick pay scheme.

Tier 2 and Tier 5 visa holders

Where the staff member taking adoption leave is a Tier 2 or Tier 5 visa holder and their period of leave will include a period paid either at the rate of statutory pay, or unpaid leave please refer to the Staff Immigration Team webpage for the latest guidance on what will need to be reported to the Home Office. See: www.admin.ox.ac.uk/personnel/permits/employresp/#d.en.51905.  For further information contact the Staff Immigration Team.

End of contract during adoption leave

If an employee's contract is due to end during the adoption leave period, the normal arrangements for ending contracts will apply, however, it is recommended that the Departmental Administrator (or equivalent) contacts their HR Business Partner for guidance on the appropriate procedures.

If the employee has provided written confirmation that they wish the department to seek suitable alternative employment for her within the University, this should be sought in the normal way.

If it has not been possible to redeploy the employee, under the normal University rules, then University pay and rights under the University's contractual adoption pay scheme end on the same day that the contract expires, and employment ends. The employee may continue to have entitlement to SAP. Any such payment will be paid to the employee as a lump sum amount at the end of their employment.

For information on pay in relation to the expiry of fixed-term contracts during adoption leave click here.

Childcare

Parents using University nursery provision, childcare vouchers or salary sacrifice schemes must contact Childcare Services before the unpaid period, as the schemes operate differently during the unpaid period of adoption leave.