Adoption leave and pay

If you are working and adopt a child you’re usually entitled to paid time off work when they first join your family. This is called Statutory Adoption Pay and Leave.

What is Statutory Adoption Leave?

Did you know?

Some employers have more generous adoption leave schemes than the statutory one. Check your employment contract or staff handbook for details, or ask your employer.

If you’re adopting or having a child through surrogacy, you might be entitled to 52 weeks’ leave from work if you’re an employee.

If you’re adopting as a couple, only one person can get adoption leave.

The other might be able to get paternity leave or shared parental leave.

What is Statutory Adoption Pay?

Statutory Adoption Pay is the legal minimum your employer should pay you when you’re on adoption leave.

This table shows how much you’ll get at each stage of adoption leave for the 2021-22 tax year:

Statutory Adoption Leave Statutory Adoption Pay
First six weeks 90% of your average weekly earnings before tax
The next 33 weeks £151.97 per week or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is less)
The next 13 weeks Unpaid

Are you eligible?

To get Statutory Adoption Pay you must:

  • earn at least £120 a week on average before tax
  • have worked for your employer for at least 26 weeks by the week you’re matched with a child (or the 15th week before the due date if you’re using a surrogate)
  • give your employer at least 28 days’ notice that you want to stop work and tell them when you want your adoption pay to start (at least 15 weeks’ notice if you’re using a surrogate)
  • give your employer proof of adoption (e.g. the matching certificate)

Use GOV.UK’s adoption leave planner to work out when you should claim your leave.

Find out more about adoption leave and pay on GOV.UK

Pay if you’re adopting a child from overseas

The requirements are the same if you’re adopting from overseas, except you must have been continuously employed by your employer for at least 26 weeks when you start getting adoption pay.

You must also sign form SC6 if you’re adopting from overseas with a partner. This confirms you’re not taking paternity leave or pay.

Pay if you’re in a surrogacy arrangement

The requirements are the same if you’re in a surrogacy arrangement, except you must have been continuously employed by your employer for at least 26 weeks by the 15th week before the baby’s due.

You must also:

  • intend to apply for a parental order
  • expect the order to be granted (for example because you do not have any convictions involving children, and the birth mother or father agree to the arrangement)

If you’re genetically related to the child (the egg or sperm donor), you can choose to get paternity leave and pay instead. You cannot get both.

You’re fostering for adoption

If you’re eligible for adoption pay and leave, you’ll receive them from when the child comes to live with you.


You do not qualify for Statutory Adoption Leave or Pay if you:

  • arrange a private adoption
  • become a special guardian or kinship carer
  • adopt a stepchild
  • adopt a family member

If you don’t qualify for Statutory Adoption Pay

Your employer must give you form SAP1 explaining why you cannot get Statutory Adoption Pay.

You may get support from your local council on GOV.UK (England, Scotland and Wales) or nidirect (Northern Ireland) to find out about other financial support which might be available to adopters.

It would be wise to try to put some money aside to help you get by while you’re off work looking after your new child, and consider taking annual leave instead.

If you think your employer isn’t being fair

What if your employer doesn’t think they need to give you adoption pay, or you feel they’re not paying you the right amount?

  1. Find out if what’s happening is discrimination.
  2. Talk to your employer. You might be able to resolve it informally. If you’re not sure where to start, Acas can help, or try speaking to your trade union or employers rep if you have one.
  3. If you’re unable to resolve the issue, you can make a written complaintopens in new window.

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