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Statutory Adoption Pay

Last updated: 5 Apr 2022

When you take adoption leave, you might also be eligible for Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP). This article provides a detailed breakdown of SAP, eligibility requirements, how much you can expect to receive, and where to go for more information.

What is Statutory Adoption Pay?

Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP) is a weekly payment made by employers to their employees who adopt a baby and are on adoption leave. Agency workers may also be entitled to SAP. If you are not employed or an agency worker, you cannot get SAP.

SAP is paid for a maximum period of 39 weeks. If you qualify for SAP, you can receive it whether or not you intend to return to work for your employer.

In addition to SAP, your employer may pay you enhanced adoption pay, which might have different conditions and may be closer to the amount of your normal wage. Your employer does not have to pay more than SAP, unless you have a contractual right to extra pay, but they cannot pay you less than SAP if you are eligible for it.

Am I eligible for Statutory Adoption Pay?

To qualify for SAP, you have to satisfy two basic rules:

  • the continuous employment rule
  • the earnings rule

You must also tell your employer when you want your SAP to start.

The continuous employment rule

You must have been employed by your employer for a continuous period of at least 26 weeks before the week that you are notified that you have been matched with a child for adoption.

Continuous employment usually means employment by the same employer without a break.

The earnings rules

Your average gross weekly earnings must be at least equal to the lower earnings limit for National Insurance (NI) purposes. In tax year 2022/23, this is £123 per week.

As a general rule, your earnings will be averaged over a period of at least 8 weeks up to and including the last pay day before the week that you are matched with a child.

There is no equivalent of Maternity Allowance if you do not earn enough to get Statutory Adoption Pay. You might qualify for Universal Credit instead, but this takes into account your whole household income and savings. If you are on a reduced income during your adoption leave, regardless of whether you are entitled to Statutory Adoption Pay you might find our page on what you can claim during paid statutory or unpaid family leave helpful.

How much is Statutory Adoption Pay?

SAP is paid for 39 weeks:

During the first six weeks, you will receive 90% of your average pay. This is based on your earnings during the eight weeks or two months before your qualifying week (the ‘relevant period’).

During the remaining 33 weeks, you will receive the flat rate (£156.66 per week) or 90% of your average earnings, whichever is lower. 

If you are adopting as a couple, SAP is only available to the nominated adopter who is taking adoption leave. The other partner may be entitled to Statutory Paternity Pay (Adoption).

How to give notice for Statutory Adoption Pay

To get SAP, you need to confirm the dates of expected placement and when you want your SAP to start, in writing if your employer requests it, and:

  • State in writing that you want to receive SAP rather than Statutory Paternity Pay (if you are adopting jointly with a partner).
  • Supply documents from the adoption agency that confirm the facts about the adoption, including when the child is expected to be placed with you, and when you were informed about this.
  • For intended parents in surrogacy arrangements, provide a statutory declaration that you have applied or intend to apply for a parental order with another person (within 14 days of your employer requesting to see it), and that you expect the court to make the order.

You should give notice for SAP 28 days before you want your pay to start, or as soon as reasonably practicable. It is usually convenient to give notice for adoption leave and pay at the same time.


This advice applies in England, Wales and Scotland. If you live in another part of the UK, the law may differ. Please call our helpline for more details.

If you have further questions and would like to contact our advice team please use our advice contact form below or call us.

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The information on the law contained on this site is provided free of charge and does not, and is not intended to, amount to legal advice to any person on a specific case or matter. If you are not a solicitor, you are advised to obtain specific legal advice about your case or matter and not to rely solely on this information. Law and guidance is changing regularly in this area.