Adoption leave and pay

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

What is Statutory Adoption Leave?

If you're adopting or having a child through surrogacy, you may 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 may 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 2018/19 tax year:

Statutory Adoption Leave    Statutory Adoption Pay
 First six weeks  90% of your average weekly earnings before tax
 The next 33 weeks  £148.68 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:

  • 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)
  • earn at least £118 a week on average
  • 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 (eg the matching certificate)

Use's adoption leave planner to work out when you should claim your leave. 

Find out more about adoption leave and pay on

Money fitness tip

If your partner's not with the Forces, get them to check their employment contract or staff handbook. Their employer may offer a more generous scheme than the Statutory one.

If you don’t qualify for Statutory Adoption Pay

You can find your local council on GOV.UK (England, Scotland and Wales) or nidirect (Northern Ireland) to find out about other financial support which may 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?

  • Find out if what is happening is discrimination.
  • Talk to your employer, chain of command or your admin office. 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. 
  • If you're unable to resolve the issue, you can make a written complaint.

Last reviewed: 09/04/2019

This content has been provided by the Money Advice Service