Adoption leave and pay

Adoption pay

Statutory adoption pay (SAP) is paid for 39 weeks and usually covers the first 39 weeks of an employee's adoption leave.

There are different eligibility criteria for SAP for UK and overseas adoptions.

For more information, see statutory adoption pay and leave.

(Note that in Northern Ireland, in exceptional cases, adoption pay may be payable where an adoption agency places a child with approved foster parents who are also approved prospective adopters. The agency will supply the foster parents with correspondence which can be shown to the employer explaining that they have met the relevant criteria for being matched with the child for the purposes of adoption leave and pay, and other entitlements open to adopters. The usual notification and service criteria will apply).

SAP rates and recovery

For the first six weeks you must pay your employee SAP a weekly rate equal to 90 per cent of their average weekly earnings (AWE).

For the next 33 weeks you must pay them the lower of the following:

  • the standard weekly rate - ¬£145.18
  • 90 per cent of their AWE

You can recover some or all of your SAP payments from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) - the proportion you can recover depends on the size of your annual NICs liability.

Enhanced adoption pay

If you wish, you can offer enhanced adoption pay arrangements to attract and retain employees. For example, you could:

  • pay more than SAP over a certain period, eg full pay for the first six weeks, half pay for the next ten weeks, SAP for the remaining 23 weeks
  • make a bonus payment on the employee's return to work

You could change the qualification criteria for these enhancements, eg the employee needs a year's continuous service.

You can offer these arrangements either as a contractual right or on a discretionary, case-by-case basis. When exercising discretion caution should be taken to avoid claims of unfair treatment or discrimination.

You can still recover from HMRC the SAP portion of any enhanced adoption pay.