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How to arrange cover for an employee's adoption leave

Authors: Sue West and Susie Munro


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  • Be aware that there may be only a short period between the employee giving notice of adoption leave and the leave period starting.
  • Start planning how to arrange cover as soon as you know that the employee intends to take adoption leave.
  • Establish if cover can be sourced internally through redistributing the work among existing team members, or suspending the work until the end of the adoption leave period.
  • If the work cannot be redistributed, consider if there is a suitable employee who can "act up" into the role or a suitable employee who can be seconded from a different part of the organisation.
  • If there is, document the "acting up" or secondment arrangement, including flexibility as to the end date.
  • If hiring external staff to cover, decide whether to recruit directly or via an agency.
  • If hiring a fixed-term employee, comply with the Fixed-term Employees (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2002, and build in flexibility as to the end date of the contract.
  • Consider the degree of training required to enable the covering employee to undertake the role.
  • Plan an appropriate handover at both ends of the adoption leave.
  • Anticipate possible changes to working arrangements at the end of the employee's adoption leave.
  • Be aware of the employee's right to return to their old job after adoption leave.