One of the potentially complicated aspects of becoming a surrogate is working through — and taking time off for — your surrogate pregnancy. Because the child you’re carrying is not your own, you may worry about how your employer will accept and respond to your decision.
First off, know that your surrogacy is no one’s business but yours and your intended parents. Therefore, you are never obligated to tell your employer more than you feel comfortable with. In fact, some surrogates do not even reveal their surrogacy to their employer; they simply inform him or her of their plans for maternity leave.
A great deal of how you navigate being a surrogate at your office will be up to your workplace environment and your relationship with your boss and coworkers. However, the specialists at American Surrogacy will also be here to provide suggestions and support for this unique part of your surrogacy experience, and may be able to help advocate for the services and employer support you may need. For our assistance, please call 1-800-875-2229(BABY).
Below, we’ve outlined a few typical areas of concern for surrogates who plan to work through their pregnancy and provided some suggestions.
Telling Your Boss
No matter whether you choose to tell your workplace about your surrogacy plans, you will need to speak with your employer about your pregnancy. This way, they will be aware of any maternal leave you need to take and can prepare for your absence accordingly.
However, this conversation can sometimes be a bit complicated. How much do you tell your boss about your surrogacy plans, and when do you tell him or her about them?
When and how this conversation occurs will depend upon your personal relationship, but many surrogates choose to wait until after their pregnancy is confirmed or after their 20-week ultrasound to inform their boss. This way, they can avoid the awkwardness and complication of telling their boss about any miscarriage or failed transfers.
Whether or not you specifically tell your boss that your pregnancy is a surrogate pregnancy will be up to you. Many employers will actually be impressed by an employee’s selfless decision to become a surrogate.
Either way, it’s important that you make sure to specify when you are due, when you plan to take any leave (see below), and any extra accommodations you may require during your pregnancy.
Determining Benefits and Maternal Time Off
Despite the growing popularity of surrogacy, many employers do not have specific benefits for women who choose to become surrogates. You may be the first employee to approach your boss about surrogacy, which means you and your employer may need to work together to create a benefit and leave package that works for you.
While you will need to take maternal leave for your delivery and recovery, the good news is that many surrogates can return to their workplace earlier than if they had delivered their own child. They do not have to care for a newborn, and many return to work within a few weeks, if that. However, you should always pay attention to your body and its needs rather than rush back to work before you are ready.
Whether or not you will receive paid maternal leave will be up to your employer’s company policy. Like you would with any traditional pregnancy, speak in detail with your human resources department to determine what benefits will be available to you — and, if you have told them about your surrogate pregnancy, if and how your surrogacy will affect those benefits. Depending on the size of your company, you may be entitled to up to 12 weeks of unpaid, protected leave after birth as protected by federal law.
Keep in mind: Your surrogacy contract should list any lost wages you (or your spouse) anticipate from your surrogacy journey. The intended parents should reimburse you for that lost income.
Sharing Information with Your Coworkers
You will always have the right to share as much or as little information about your surrogacy with your coworkers as you feel comfortable with. However, keep in mind that news of your surrogate pregnancy will likely spread, and you may be faced with insensitive or uncomfortable comments and questions. If you do not specifically state that your pregnancy is a surrogacy, you may find yourself offered a baby shower at work or a similar celebration. It’s important to think about all of these possibilities when weighing how much to share about your personal surrogacy journey.
If you feel comfortable doing so, you can take this as an opportunity to educate and spread awareness about the realities of the surrogacy process. Answer any questions you are comfortable answering and, when you aren’t, simply say something along the lines of, “My contract doesn’t allow me to divulge that information.”
Like your boss, many of your coworkers may end up being excited about your journey and congratulating you on your wonderful, selfless decision to help another person.
Navigating your surrogate pregnancy at your workplace can be complicated, but preparation is a key part of making it a positive experience for you and your boss. If you have any questions about this situation, don’t hesitate to reach out to your surrogacy specialist today.