Becoming a surrogate is an incredibly exciting and rewarding experience. But it does come with some tricky parts – like figuring out how to juggle your pregnancy with your job.
The big questions that prospective surrogates have are usually around maternity leave and if they qualify for benefits through their employer. After all, having a baby for someone else isn’t quite the ‘normal’ pregnancy journey, so where does that leave you and your regular job?
We’ll explain everything you need to know about your rights as a surrogate and whether your job will still be there for you after your surrogacy journey is complete.
Telling your employer you’re becoming a surrogate
Your boss is obviously one of the people who needs to know about your surrogacy plans, as you’ll be needing time off during the surrogacy process for clinic appointments, meetings, and possibly the odd sick day when you’re not feeling great.
For many women, announcing a pregnancy at work can be a little stressful, but the fact that you’re a surrogate may make it even more nerve-wracking. Explaining that you’re having a baby for someone else can sound strange to some people, especially if they don’t know much about surrogacy. There is no way to know what their response will be!
So, how much information do you have to share about your surrogacy? And when and how should you do it?
When to tell your employer you’re becoming a surrogate
Keep in mind that you may need time off while you’re trying to get pregnant, so in most cases, the earlier you share, the better — even if you choose to remain vague about the circumstances.
You may choose to simply state that you have a medical issue that you need to tend to, but it can be a welcome relief to have your boss’ full support throughout your journey. You may be surprised at how receptive, compassionate, and flexible your workplace can be.
Whatever your relationship with your boss, they will likely appreciate being told in advance so they can take the necessary steps to come up with a plan to manage your workload in your absence.
Just remember that in the end, what you choose to tell your employer and coworkers about your surrogacy journey is entirely up to you.
Do surrogates get maternity leave?
Yes! As per the Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA), any woman who has a baby qualifies for maternity leave. That includes surrogates!
There are, of course, several criteria that must be met.
- Work for a qualified employer
- Have worked at least 1,250 hours within the last year
- Have worked for your employer for at least 12 months (this doesn’t need to be consecutive)
- Work for an employer that has at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius
How does maternity leave work for surrogates?
Whether you’re having your own baby or a baby for someone else, you’ll need time to prepare and recover from pregnancy and childbirth.
Under the FMLA, you’ll be entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid maternity leave. Your employer is also required to hold your job and maintain your group health benefits for you.
If you don’t meet the criteria under the FMLA, your leave will be at your employer’s discretion. You may also have the option of using vacation leave or sick days.
Some states, including California, have maternity leave rules specifically for surrogates. When you work with a surrogacy agency like Family Source Consultants, we’ll make sure you understand what state laws apply to you.
Does my employer have to pay me?
Although the FMLA allows surrogates to take leave and have their job protected, this isn’t necessarily paid leave. In the US, maternity and paternity leave policies are at the discretion of the employer and state laws.
Nine states — California, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington — and the District of Columbia have laws that provide paid maternity leave, but each state sets its own rules about who qualifies and what benefits you will receive.
Unfortunately, a very low percentage of employees receive paid parental leave.
The good news is that surrogates get compensated for maternity leave as part of their surrogacy compensation package. Your attorney will ensure any lost wages are included in your legal agreement before becoming pregnant.
Your surrogacy compensation package will also include short-term disability insurance in case your doctor advises bed rest at any time during your pregnancy. This policy will provide you with an extra layer of financial security.
What other compensation can I expect as a surrogate?
Depending on the agency you work with, surrogates will receive compensation before, during, and after their pregnancy.
At Family Source Consultants, surrogates receive payments made before the embryo transfer, including paid travel expenses to IVF clinics, plus lost wages and childcare (when necessary). The base compensation is paid over nine months in monthly installments, beginning when the pregnancy is confirmed. All costs will be covered for surrogacy services, and surrogates are reimbursed for any medical expenses incurred during the journey.
This generous package is designed to cover all bases and compensate you for your time and effort in carrying a baby for someone else.
If you’d like to know more about navigating your surrogacy journey, call the FSC team! Many of us have been surrogates or IPs ourselves, so we know every last detail about the process.