Two-tier system leaves adopters out of pocket

Recent coverage on maternity and adoption leave in Personnel Today and on has suggested that these have been harmonised.

Perhaps I am unusual in having two adopted children and being a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, and it is only with the benefit of both hats that I discovered that, in fact, adoption pay has not been harmonised with maternity pay.

When our adopted son – now seven months old – joined us earlier this year, as the primary carer, my wife was entitled to the same amount of adoption leave as she would have been entitled to maternity leave had she actually given birth to him. However, it seems she is not entitled to the same rate of pay. In fact, she receives only the lower maternity rate, although for the whole period.

Of course, this doesn’t matter to us: we are proud and overjoyed to have our new son – as is his big sister – and we know how lucky we are to have been matched with him.

I’m sure most employers would pay the higher rate of maternity pay under these circumstances, despite this disparity in the law. But as an HR professional, it makes you wonder how on earth these decisions are made.

Steve Walsh

Personnel project manager,

Moorfields Eye Hospital

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