Does an employee have the right to return to the same job after adoption leave?

Regulation 26(1) of the Paternity and Adoption Leave Regulations 2002 (SI 2002/2788) provides that an employee is entitled to return to the same job after an isolated period of ordinary adoption leave. If the employee returns to work after additional adoption leave, and it is not reasonably practicable for the employer to allow him or her to return to the same job, the employee is entitled to return to another job that is both suitable and appropriate for him or her to do in the circumstances. In both cases, the job must be on terms and conditions no less favourable than would have applied had the employee not been absent.

In the more unusual situation where the employee returns to work after a period of ordinary adoption leave that followed on from one or more other periods of statutory leave, his or her right to return depends on the length of leave already taken. The right to return to the same job applies if the employee returns from ordinary adoption leave that was the last of two or more consecutive periods of statutory leave that did not include:

  • any period of ordinary parental leave of more than four weeks; or
  • any period of statutory leave that when added to any other period of statutory leave (excluding ordinary parental leave) taken in relation to the same child means that the total amount of statutory leave taken in relation to that child totals more than 26 weeks.

If the employee returns to work from a period of ordinary adoption leave that does not fall into the above description, for example because it follows immediately after more than 26 weeks' ordinary and additional adoption leave relating to a different child, the employee has the right to return to his or her original job unless this is not reasonably practicable, in which case he or she has the right to return to another suitable job, on terms no less favourable than would have applied had he or she not been absent.