While shared parental leave and pay has dominated coverage of the April 2015 employment law changes, the introduction of the right to time off to attend adoption appointments has received next to no attention. However, employers need to be aware of this right and make sure that they have updated their policies to include it.
When is the right to time off for adoption appointments available?
From 5 April 2015, employees who are adopting either alone or jointly are entitled to time off during working hours to attend adoption appointments. This is a day-one right for employees.
There are various conditions attached to the right. For example, the appointment must take place before the start of the child’s placement and have been arranged by the adoption agency.
Time off for adoption appointments: model documents
Is the time off for adoption appointments paid or unpaid?
An employee who is adopting alone is entitled to paid time off, whereas an employee who is adopting jointly with another person can choose to take paid time off or unpaid time off.
However, if one employee in the couple chooses to take paid time off, the other employee is restricted to taking unpaid time off.
The right to paid time off is more generous and allows the employee to attend up to five adoption appointments. The right to unpaid time off allows the employee to go along to two appointments. The employee can absent in relation to each appointment for a set number of hours only.
Can an employer ask for proof of the adoption appointment?
An employer can request that the employee provides confirmation of the date and time of the appointment and that it has been arranged by the adoption agency. Where an employer makes such a request, the employee is not entitled to take the time off that they have requested unless they provide that confirmation.
What if an employer refuses an employee time off?
There are consequences where an employer unreasonably refuses an employee’s request for time off as an employee is entitled to pursue matters in the employment tribunal.