Adoption leave is not a common occurrence and is often poorly understood. Both employers and employees need to understand how it works, especially when it comes to its implementation in payroll. This guide aims to demystify adoption leave, ensuring a clear understanding for all parties involved.

What is Adoption Leave?

Adoption leave is regulated by the Adoption Leave National Standard Order (SL 452.111). This entitlement safeguards the employment rights of employees who adopt a child, but it does not apply to adoptions where the person adopted is the natural offspring of either parent.

Duration of Leave

An employee who adopts a child is entitled to an uninterrupted 18-week adoption leave, starting from the date the child passes into the care of the adoptive parent(s) following a court judgement. The first 14 weeks of this leave are paid in full by the employer. The remaining 4 week are paid via the adoption leave benefit. More details can be found here.

Additional Unpaid Leave

If an employee opts for additional leave beyond the 14 paid weeks, the employer is not obligated to pay wages for this extra time. However, employees may be eligible for benefits under the Social Security Act for any period of adoption leave exceeding 14 weeks.

Single Parent Scenario

In cases where there is only one parent, that parent is entitled to the full adoption leave.
Two-Parent Scenarios
If only one parent is employed at the time of the child’s adoption, that parent is entitled to the leave.
If both parents are employed, they can agree in writing on how to split the leave.

Resignations & Adoption Leave

If an employee takes adoption leave and then either doesn’t come back to work as expected or leaves their job without a valid reason within two months after returning, they must repay the employer the wages they received during their adoption leave.

If the employee works only part of the two-month period, the amount they need to repay will be reduced based on how long they worked.

Adoption Leave & Probation

When an employee intends to avail himself of adoption leave during the probationary period, the probationary period shall be suspended on the day of the start of the adoption leave and shall resume when the employee returns to work.

Adoption Leave & Employees on fixed term contract

An employee on a fixed-term contract shall, for the duration of that contract have the same rights but shall not be liable to pay the employer a sum equivalent to the wages he received during adoption leave if his contract of employment is not extended at the employer’s discretion for up to a period of time which is sufficient for him to fulfil the obligation to pay back all the adoption leave taken.

Notification Requirements

Employees must notify their employer in writing at least two weeks before commencing adoption leave, including a statement from their accredited adoption agency that confirms a court date for the adoption hearing.


Adoption leave, while not a common occurrence, is a crucial part of employment law and payroll management. Understanding its nuances ensures that the rights of employees are respected and that employers fulfil their legal obligations.

Need Help with Payroll Complexity?

Managing payroll, especially when it involves complex laws like adoption leave, can be challenging. Outsourcing your payroll might be a more cost-effective and error-free solution. Contact us at or call us on 2258 8019 to learn how we can assist you with your payroll needs.

Photo by Pavel Danilyuk

The present article is not intended to provide legal advice; it merely provides a general understanding of and information relating to the topics mentioned above. You understand that there is no legal relationship between you and by reading articles on this web page. Always consult licensed legal entities when you are making an important decision.