The Government has announced that it will change parental leave and pay available to adoptive parents to bring it more closely into line with the leave and pay rights available to birth parents. The proposals are in response to the Modern Workplace consultation and the will be implemented by 2015.
Statutory adoption leave will become a "day one" right with no qualifying conditions for eligible adopters who are matched with a child for adoption. Statutory adoption pay will be enhanced to 90% of the primary adopter's salary for the first 6 weeks, which mirrors the arrangement for statutory maternity pay.
Working couples who adopt will also be able to opt in the flexible parental system if they meet the qualifying conditions in the same way as birth parents. An adopter who qualifies for statutory adoption leave may end that leave and if both adopters, or the adopter and his or her partner, meet the qualifying criteria they will become eligible for the flexible parental leave and pay system.
Intended parents of a child born through a surrogacy arrangement who meet the criteria to apply for a Parental Order will be eligible for statutory adoption leave and pay if they meet the qualifying criteria; and for flexible parental leave and pay if they meet the qualifying criteria. They will also be eligible for unpaid time off to attend two ante-natal appointments.
The Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, also announced general reforms to parental leave that will allow both parents to share up to a year's leave to look after their new-born children.
Under the new system of flexible parental leave, parents will be able to choose how they share care of their child in the first year after birth. Employed mothers will still be entitled to 52 weeks of maternity leave. However, working parents will be able to opt to share the leave.
Announcing the proposed changes, Mr Clegg said: "Right now, if a couple are adopting a baby, they can only take their equivalent of maternity and paternity leave if they've been in a job for 6 months. If a couple are having a baby, they can take their leave no matter how long they've been in post. In the future, leave will be a day-one right for all parents.
"And, at the moment, if a woman gives birth to a baby she gets the first six weeks at 90% of her pay. On average, if she's working full time, that's around £400 a week.
"However, if a woman, or man, adopts a baby that's capped at £135 a week. It's ridiculous that adopters should be financially worse off, so we'll make sure the primary adopter is guaranteed 90% of their salary too."