How to Talk to Your Employer About Parental Leave

There’s something special about those first moments that you spend with your baby —their laugh, their smile, and all the little things that make them so unique. We know that you’ll want to soak up as much time as you can with your little one. But there’s one small thing to worry about: getting time off from your job.

Every parent deserves to have time to bond with their child after birth. If you’re an intended parent, you’re probably wondering if surrogacy is included in your employer’s  parental leave policy. You might even be worried about how to broach the subject with them in the first place or about how they will react.

These fears are common, but there is some important information you should know to put your mind at ease.

What Kind of Benefits Can Intended Parents Receive?

Both surrogates and intended parents can receive FMLA, also known as the Family and Medical Leave Act. This protection includes 12 weeks of unpaid leave for various reasons, including the birth of a child. However, please keep in mind that FMLA does not include paid leave. It also comes with certain restrictions. For example, only covered employers offer FMLA. Employees are also required to work a certain length of time before they’re able to receive it.

Before taking leave, please check with your employer or HR to understand all of their policies. Ultimately, it will be up to your employer to decide whether or not you can receive leave.

You can also take this time to see if your employer offers paid parental leave, if any. If that option isn’t available, you might have to work out a flexible schedule with your spouse that includes working from home or working part-time.

Don’t forget to ask your employer what kind of options are available and to create a plan with them before leaving.

How to Talk to Your Boss

At some point, you’ll need to tell your boss about your surrogacy journey. Depending on your employer, you may or may not be the first employee to share  surrogacy news  — so they might not know what to expect.

Below, you’ll find some tips for navigating this conversation:

  • Talk to them early: It’s important to specify when you plan to take leave, so that your employer can plan ahead. If you don’t give them enough heads up, they might not be able to help as much. Or, even worse, you might find that you’re already scheduled for that time off. It never hurts to be early, but it can hurt to start too late, so plan ahead.
  • Try to talk face-to-face: This is the best way to have a conversation with your employer. Try to plan for when they’re free and set some time aside to talk about your parental leave plan. This is also a good time to go over what arrangements are available to parents pursuing surrogacy.
  • Determine what your maternity leave will look like: Some parents decide to take the whole 12 weeks of FMLA available to them, while others need less. Read through your employee handbook to see what your company’s policy is regarding maternal and paternal leave.

Keep in mind that, for many, surrogacy is still a relatively new concept. There are some employers who won’t be understanding if an intended parent asks for leave. Unfortunately, this means that intended parents could face some challenges in the workplace.

If this turns out to be the case, or your workplace doesn’t offer arrangements for parents pursuing surrogacy, you might be at a loss wondering what to do next. If you face any discrimination at all, don’t be afraid to get HR or a lawyer involved to advocate on your behalf. It might even be a good idea to talk to them first for some more tips.

Remember: You deserve to have as much time as any other parent to bond with your baby.

What’s Next?

Navigating parental leave as an intended parent can be confusing, but we’re here to help. If you have any other questions about parental leave as an intended parent, don’t hesitate to reach out to your surrogacy specialist for more information.

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