Adoption leave and adoption pay

If you're planning to adopt a child in the UK, you might be wondering what your rights are for parental leave and pay. Statutory Adoption Leave's available for many people in the UK, but you'll need to check you're eligible before applying.

How long’s Statutory Adoption Leave?

Statutory Adoption Leave allows you to take up to 52 weeks off work when you adopt a child. You can also take 52 weeks when you have a child through a surrogacy arrangement. Adoption leave’s made up of:

  • 26 weeks of Ordinary Adoption Leave

  • And 26 weeks of Additional Adoption Leave.

You can start your leave on the date the child starts living with you. Or up to 14 days before the expected placement date for UK adoptions. For overseas adoptions, you can start your leave when the child arrives in the UK or within 28 days of this date. For surrogacy arrangements, you can start your leave on the day the child’s born or the day after.

How much is Statutory Adoption Pay?

Statutory Adoption Pay helps you cover some of your lost income while you’re on adoption leave. Statutory Adoption Pay’s paid for 39 weeks, made up of:

  • Ordinary Adoption Leave for the first six weeks

  • Additional Adoption Leave for 33 weeks.

The amount of Statutory Adoption Pay you receive depends on your average weekly earnings.

  • For the first six weeks, you’ll get 90% of your average weekly earnings

  • For the next 33 weeks, you’ll get £172.48 a week or 90% of your average weekly earnings. Whichever’s lower.

You’ll pay tax and National Insurance on your Statutory Adoption Pay. You may also get more pay if your employer has its own Adoption Pay policy.

Who can take Statutory Adoption Leave?

To qualify for Statutory Adoption Leave, you must meet certain eligibility criteria. You must:

  • Be an employee (not self-employed or an agency worker)

  • Have worked for your employer for at least 26 weeks by the time you’re matched with a child for adoption

  • Give your employer notice and proof of your adoption within a specified time frame.

Unfortunately, if you’re self-employed you’re not eligible for Adoption Leave or Pay. But you might be entitled to other financial support from the government. Such as Working Tax Credits, Child Tax Credits and Child Benefit.

Eligibility for Statutory Adoption Pay

To qualify for Statutory Adoption Pay, you must meet the eligibility criteria for Statutory Adoption Leave plus you must:

There are some exceptions. You won’t be eligible for Statutory Adoption Leave or Pay if you:

  • Arrange a private adoption (a non-agency adoption)

  • Become a special guardian or kinship carer

  • Adopt a stepchild

  • Adopt a family member.

Can my partner take adoption leave too?

Only one parent in a couple can take Statutory Adoption Leave and Pay. However, your partner may be eligible to take paternity leave and pay alongside you taking adoption leave and pay. Alternatively you could both apply to take Shared Parental Leave and Pay. You can find out what your employer’s policy is by checking your contract or staff handbook. You can also ask your HR department.

Find out about PensionBee’s Parental Leave Policy.

Adoption leave and pensions

If your workplace scheme’s a defined contribution pension, you and your employer will still be contributing to your pension while you’re on Paid parental leave. This includes adoption leave. However, your contributions during parental leave will be based on your parental leave pay, rather than your full salary. Your employer will continue contributing to your pension based on your pay before you took parental leave.

What to remember:

  • As long as you’re paying into your pension, your employer will too. If you stop your contributions, so will your employer

  • If you take the final 13 weeks of unpaid adoption leave you won’t be paying into your pension at that time, and neither will your employer.

What are the benefits of taking adoption leave?

Adoption leave and pay are important rights. They can help you balance your work and family life when you welcome a new child into your home. They can also support your child’s wellbeing and development by giving you time to bond. If you’re thinking about adopting a child, make sure you understand your entitlements and responsibilities.

Listen to episode 19 of The Pension Confident Podcast. Our guests discuss preparing to have kids, childcare costs and more. You can also watch the episode on YouTube or read the full transcript.

Risk warning

As always with investments, your capital is at risk. The value of your investment can go down as well as up, and you may get back less than you invest. This information should not be regarded as financial advice.

Last edited: 30/10/2023

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