1 February 2009
When is a parent not a parent? When they’re an adoptive parent
Adoption UK has warned that parents who adopt some of the UK’s most traumatised children continue to be discriminated against in the workplace.
The warning follows Government plans to give fathers a legal right to take up to six months’ paternity leave while their child’s mother returns to work.
But the national adoptive parenting charity, which supports adopters before during and after adoption, is urging the Government and employers to change the law on adoption pay and leave to bring adoptive parents’ rights in line with other working parents.
Even though the extensions to paternity leave will apply to adopters and are to be welcomed, says the charity, the government has missed the opportunity to address the existing discrimination.
Under current legislation, working adoptive mothers get less in adoption pay than working mothers who have given birth get in maternity pay. Employees who are eligible for maternity pay can receive a statutory minimum of 39 weeks’ pay, with six of those weeks at 90 per cent of their salary. The remaining 33 weeks are paid at the prevailing rate of Statutory Maternity Pay – currently ?123.06 per week. However, adoptive mothers are only entitled to the Statutory Maternity Pay rate throughout the total 29 weeks –
thus losing six weeks of their salaries at the higher rate.
Under the new plans, announced on 28 January, fathers will have a legal right to take the place of the mother for the last three months of her nine-month maternity leave. During this time, fathers will be entitled to statutory government pay of ?123 per week. They will then be entitled to take an additional three months leave unpaid.
“Extending paternity leave is all well and good,” said Adoption UK Director,
Jonathan Pearce,”but the fundamental discrimination at the heart of the pay
and leave system needs to end.”
He added: “We want to see parity between adoptive parents and birth
parents in the workplace.
“In the eyes of the law and Government, adopters are second class citizens at work. These new plans go to show that the Government will introduce new measures to help birth families balance their lives but what about those who are adopting the UK's most damaged children?”
Furthermore, despite both categories of employees being entitled to up to 52 weeks leave from work, adopters must have worked for their employer for at least 26 weeks continuously as of the week they are notified that a child will be placed with them. Those on maternity leave are eligible for the leave entitlement irrespective of their length of service with their employer.
Mr Pearce said: “The current legislation is in complete contradiction to the
Government’s other initiatives that try to encourage people to become adopters. Ministers say support will be provided but at the very first hurdle, adopters lose out to the tune of thousands of pounds.”
During the past 12 years, the Government has doubled maternity leave, doubled maternity pay, introduced paternity leave, doubled childcare places and introduced the right to flexible working.
“More needs to be done for adoptive parents. Around 3,300 children were adopted from the care system last year and the majority is removed from their birth families due to abuse or neglect,” said Mr Pearce.
He added: “If adoptive parents cannot stay at home for as long as they need to, it is the children that lose out. It is common for adoption agencies to require adopters to commit to giving up work for at least the first year to help with the bonding process.
“Some employers go beyond the statutory minimum and ensure birth parents and adoptive parents receive the same entitlements – but many do
not; some even compound the government’s discrimination, by increasing the maternity pay and leave benefits, while keeping adoption pay and leave at the statutory minimum level. That’s a double whammy, any way you look
at it. It is about time the Government recognised what adoptive parents are doing for the country’s most traumatised children and ended this discrimination.”
For further information or to arrange an interview:
Erika Pennington, Adoption UK – email@example.com or 01295 752960.
Notes for Editors:
; Adoption UK is a registered charity (number 326654) and adoption support
agency, and was established in 1971.
; Adoption UK is the only national charity run by and for adoptive parents. The
charity’s aim is to provide and support a self-help network for adoptive
parents to explore the unique social, emotional and developmental needs of
adopted children and young people and their families. Through this network,
Adoption UK also promotes effective learning practice, based on over 35
years’ experience of adoptive parenting, which is integrated with current
theories of trauma, attachment and development.
; Adoption UK supports parents before, during and after the adoption process
; Members have experience of adopting in UK and abroad, from babies and
toddlers to teenagers, with a wide range of medical, emotional, physical and
; Membership represents multicultural Britain.
; The Online Community launched in November 2003 and won Charity Website
of the Year 2004.
Key features include message boards, letters, library of resources, database
of real life experiences, special features and daily news. Over 80% of visitors
are UK-based however the site has been embraced by people touched by
adoption around the world.
; Adoption UK offers a range of other services to adoptive families, including: a
national telephone helpline; access to local support groups throughout the
UK; contact networks; Adoption Today and Children Who Wait magazines,
information leaflets and publications; training programmes and courses; and
a lending library.
; Adoption UK also lobbies and campaigns on behalf of the concerns of
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