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Special circumstances: adoption, surrogacy and disabled children



15 May 2012

If you are adopting, having a baby through a surrogacy agreement or have a disabled child, there are a few special rules you should know about.


People adopting a child they are newly matched with can take adoption leave. Their partner can take paternity leave for the adoption.

Paternity leave

If a you are adopting jointly with your partner, you can choose which partner takes adoption leave and which partner takes paternity leave.

To take either adoption leave of a year or paternity leave of two weeks, you must have worked for your employer for at least 26 weeks before you were matched with the child. The rules are slightly different for people adopting from abroad. There is more information on the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

For the first 39 weeks of adoption leave you might be entitled to Statutory Adoption Pay which is paid at the same rate as Statutory Paternity Pay.

If you have adopted a child, you can take parental leave for that child within five years of the adoption as long as the child is under 18.

Parental leave


If you are the biological father of the baby, you will be able to take paternity leave in the normal way. However neither of you will be able to take adoption or maternity leave. Either (or both) of you will be able to take parental leave if you qualify.

Disabled children

If you are the parent of a disabled child who receives Disability Living Allowance (DLA) you have slightly better rights. You can take up to 18 weeks’ parental leave before the child is 18, and you can take parental leave one day at a time.

The right to request flexible working is also available to you until the disabled child is 18. Carers of disabled adults (regardless of whether they receive DLA) can also request to work flexibly.

Flexible working

If you are the parent of a disabled child who works or wants to work, Working Families’ Waving not Drowning network can offer advice.

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