On 29th June 2011 Valerie introduced the Adoption (Leave, Pay and Allowance Arrangements) Bill to Parliament under the Ten Minute Rule procedure.
Valerie Vaz MP said:
“I am bringing in this Bill because more needs to be done to support people who do so much for society by adopting children who do not have families of their own. It cannot be right that the people who come forward to give children a family life and offer them a stable and secure environment are not currently entitled to the same support as other parents.
“I have identified 3 areas where there are inequalities in the statutory entitlements for adoptive parents and those whose children are born to them. At the moment, pregnant women are entitled to 52 weeks’ maternity leave irrespective of their length of service with their employer. Adoptive parents must have 26 weeks of service before they are eligible for adoption leave.
“Second, Statutory Maternity pay is paid at 90% of the weekly average earnings for 6 weeks and then the lower rate of Statutory maternity pay or 90% earnings whichever is the lower. But statutory adoption pay is paid at the lower rate throughout the 39 weeks of statutory adoption pay.
“Third, there is no equivalent of maternity allowance which is available to self-employed mothers, for self-employed adopters.
“The Government should send a clear message that they value what adopters do to help children some of whom may be vulnerable. One way to do this would be to equalise their access to adoption leave, pay and allowances. Adoption agencies expect parents to take time off work in order to bond with their new child. Those who adopt must feel that they are able to do this without being financially penalised. They should be treated in the same way as birth mothers.
“I am pleased the Government have set up a Ministers Advisory Council chaired by the Minister for Children and Families. I hope they will look at these provisions in their review.”
The Bill was accepted unopposed, and is listed for second reading on 20th January 2012.