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Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare

Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare

Surrey County Council policy puts adoptive and birth mothers on equal 'maternity pay' footing

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Mom-baby_000005229076Medium.jpgThe Surrey County Council (in the UK) is now offering the same maternity pay as birth mothers to adoptive mothers, in order to allow them time off to bond with their children without suffering financial hardship. At the same time, this move is also seen as a way to remove barriers to adoption and thus encourage others to "mak[e] space in their life and home for a child who really needs security and stability."

The Council's policy change differs from the overall UK laws regarding adoption and maternity pay in that the UK's adoption pay rate is lower than the maternity pay rate.

Statutory Maternity Pay vs. Statutory Adoption Pay

The UK offers both Statutory Maternity Pay and Statutory Adoption Pay (as well as Additional Paternity Pay).

Eligibility Requirements

Maternity
  • Continuously employed by the same employer for at least 26 weeks (half a year) 15 weeks prior to the baby's due date
  • Earned on average a weekly gross pay of £107, or about $168
Adoption
  • Matched with a child for adoption
  • Continuously employed by the same employer for at least 26 weeks prior to and including the week of the match
  • Earned on average a weekly gross pay of £107, or about $168

Pay

Maternity
  • 90% of the employee's average gross weekly earnings (no upper limit) for the first 6 weeks
  • Either £135.45 (about $213) or continuing the same rate, whichever is lower, for the next 33 weeks
Adoption
  • £135.45 if average gross weekly earnings are £107 or more for 39 weeks, or
  • 90% of the employee's average gross weekly earnings, whichever is lower

For more on the UK's parenting leave laws (separate from 'pay' laws), check out their webpages on Statutory Maternity Leave and Statutory Adoption Leave.

In the United States

Here in the U.S., both adoption and fostering leave are included in the federal parental leave law, Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Through FMLA, birth, adoptive, and foster parents are entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid but job-protected leave for the birth of an infant or new placement of a child, provided the parent meets the following requirements:

  • Must have worked at the same eligible employer (50+ employees for private companies) for at least 12 months (not necessarily consecutive)
  • Must have worked at least 1,250 hours throughout the year (averaging about 24 hours per week)
  • Employer must have at least 50 employees within 75 miles of the employee's worksite

Although the leave is unpaid, it does provide for job security and preservation of health benefits. Private companies and states may enhance FMLA benefits, and generally speaking, employees can utilize accrued sick/vacation leave in order to continue receiving some pay throughout the parental leave.

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