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HMRC internal manual

Statutory Payments Manual

Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP): general information - conditions for entitlement to SAP

To receive SAP an employee must:

  • be adopting a child who has been placed with them for adoption under UK law
  • have been continuously employed by the same employer for at least 26 weeks’ continuing into the Matching Week (MW), which is the week in which they are notified that they have been matched with a child for adoption
  • not be doing any work for their employer
  • have average weekly earnings (AWE) in the relevant period of not less than the Lower Earnings Limit (LEL) which applies at the end of the MW
  • have provided evidence of the date they were notified that they have been matched with a child for adoption
  • have given the employer 28 days’ notice of when they expect them to start paying them SAP but the employer can accept late notice if there is a good reason for the delay.

If an employee satisfies these conditions they qualify for SAP even if they do not intend to return to work for the liable employer after the child is placed with them.

Placed for adoption under UK law

To be “placed for adoption” means that the adopter has been matched with a “looked after” child (a child “in care”) for adoption by an adoption agency. “Placement for adoption” is when the child begins to live with the prospective adopter.

Examples of adopters who will not be eligible for SAP are:

Foster parents and step-parents who go on to adopt a child who is already living with them on a permanent basis will not be entitled to SAP as the child will not have been matched with them for adoption or “placed with them for adoption”.

However, if a child is matched with prospective adopters but placed in their foster care prior to the adoption, then SAP may be payable if they have been notified in writing by the adoption agency and all other eligibility criteria has been met.

A written notification of having been matched with the child will be acceptable evidence for SAP

The employee does not have to give the employer evidence for leave unless the employer asks for it. The evidence an employer can ask for in respect of entitlement to adoption leave is exactly the same as for SAP.

Placed for adoption from abroad

An employee who is adopting a child from abroad through official channels may also be entitled to SAP.

If an adoption panel approves the prospective adopters, the relevant domestic authority will issue a certificate of eligibility to the overseas authority. The adopter will be given Official Notification that this certificate has been issued.

The rules for entitlement to SAP when a child is adopted from abroad are almost the same as for domestic adoptions. The differences are as follows:

  • Official Notification Week (ONW) is used instead of the Matching Week (MW)
  • the period of 26 weeks continuous employment allows for changes of employment
  • the relevant period for calculating AWE uses ONW, see SPM171100
  • notification of SAP and leave allows for changes of employment, see SPM130400
  • evidence of entitlement to SAP, see SPM130500
  • the start dates of the Adoption pay period (APP) and adoption leave, see SPM130700
  • employment ending or changing before the start of pay and leave.

Surrogate arrangement

An employee who will become a parent through surrogacy arrangement will be eligible for SAP (subject to qualifying conditions) at 90% of salary for the first six weeks and standard rate for the remaining 33 weeks. Qualifying conditions for adoption pay and leave mirror those for SMP and an intended has the right to adoption pay from the date of birth or the day after that date if they are at work.

Only one intended parent will be eligible for SAP even if they both meet the qualifying conditions. The other intended parent will be eligible for SPP if they meet the qualifying conditions. The intended parents will have to decide who will claim SAP and who will claim SPP.

Note: An intended parent is one who must, on the day that the child is born, apply or intend to apply for a parental order under section 54(1) of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008.

For more information see GOV.UK.

Foster to adopt cases

An employee approved as a foster parent and a prospective adopter who has been notified of being matched with a child under section 12B of the Adoption Agencies Regulations 2005, is eligible for SAP, subject to qualifying conditions. Those who meet the qualifying conditions can take SAP beginning no earlier than two weeks before the child is expected to be placed and no later than the date the child is placed