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Statutory Adoption Pay

Last updated: 21 May 2021

How much and how long is Statutory Adoption Pay?

You may be able to get Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP), which is paid  at 90% of your average weekly earnings for the first six weeks, then at a flat rate per week or 90% of your earnings , whichever is the lower for 33 weeks.  SAP is available to the main adopter only in a couple – the secondary adopter may be entitled to Statutory Paternity Pay (Adoption).

SAP is paid for 39 weeks in total.

Am I eligible for Statutory Adoption Pay?

To get Statutory Adoption Pay you must count as an employed earner with a continuous employment of at least 26 weeks before the week in which you are notified that you have been matched with a child for adoption,  AND earn, on average, more than the lower earnings limit for National Insurance.

Your average weekly earnings are based on:

  • If you are paid weekly, earnings received in the eight weeks up to and including the week in which you are matched with the child (or earnings received in the 8 weeks up to and including the 15th week before the child is due, in surrogacy arrangements).
  • Or if you are paid monthly, earnings received on the pay date which falls in or before the week you are matched with the child, and any other earnings received after the last normal pay day which fell at least eight weeks before that (in surrogacy arrangements, look at the pay date in or before the 15th week before the child is due and the last normal pay day at least 8 weeks before that).

There is no equivalent of Maternity Allowance if you do not earn enough to get Statutory Adoption Pay. If you are a single parent with a young child, you might be able to claim Income Support during your adoption leave.

What do I need to do to get Statutory Adoption Pay?

To get your Statutory Adoption Pay (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 adoption pay rather than paternity pay (if you are adopting jointly and/or have a partner).
  • Supply documents from the adoption agency which confirm the facts about the adoption, including when the child is expected to be placed with you, and when you were informed about this. The adoption agency should supply you with a matching certificate which has all this information on it OR
  • 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 Statutory Adoption Pay 28 days before you want your pay to start, or as soon as reasonably practicable. It is usually convenient to give notice for leave and pay at the same time. If you do not give your employer the right notice, give it to them as soon as possible, and explain why you didn’t tell them earlier.

What happens if the placement is not made or if the child dies?

If you have started adoption leave and then the placement is not made, or the child returns to the adoption agency, or the child dies, your leave will normally finish eight weeks later (or at the end of the Statutory Adoption Leave period if this is earlier). If you are getting Statutory Adoption Pay, this will also end eight weeks after the adoption finishes (or at the end of the Statutory Adoption Pay period if this is earlier). Because you have to give eight weeks’ notice of an early return from adoption leave, this will mean you have to give notice to your employer as soon as the placement ends. If you have not started your adoption leave when you find out that a child is not going to be placed with you or your partner, then you cannot take any leave or pay.

The rules about Statutory Adoption Pay are slightly different if you are adopting from abroad. There is information about overseas adoption leave and pay on the gov.uk website.

Remember to check your contract of employment- your employer may offer more than the legal minimum SAP.

As a new parent, you may also be eligible to other benefits, do check our article on What can I claim when I have a child .


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.