On day 5 of National Fertility Awareness Week, Catharine Geddes, Employment Partner at Lester Aldridge, explains the employment rights for surrogate parents.
With one in six couples struggling to become parents, surrogacy is becoming more and more common. There’s a lot to take into account for both the surrogate mother and the intended family during the process, including their working arrangements. Previously, employment rights for intended families were limited, however since April 2015, those rights have been extended.
The surrogate mother, as with all other pregnant employees, is entitled to up to 52 weeks’ maternity leave and statutory maternity pay (if eligible). In the same way as other pregnant employees, she is also allowed time off to attend antenatal appointments, and has the right to return to the same job following leave. Whatever the surrogate mother does with the child in a surrogacy arrangement following birth will have no impact on her entitlement to maternity leave.
The position is however different for the intended parents (who have been granted a Parental Order), and whilst the intended father is now entitled to paternity leave (subject to meeting certain qualifying conditions), the intended mother is not entitled to maternity leave. Either intended parent can however benefit from adoption leave and/or the new system of shared parental leave. Parents who are not eligible for a Parental Order have no right to paternity, adoption or shared parental leave.
In relation to adoption leave, the intended parents must decide who will be Parent A, and thus will benefit from the statutory entitlements. Parent A will be entitled to up to 52 weeks’ adoption leave as well as statutory adoption pay (if eligible). In the same way as maternity leave, Parent A will also have the right to return to the same job following adoption leave. Both intended parents can now also take unpaid time off to attend two antenatal appointments in order to accompany the surrogate mother.
Shared parental leave is available to both intended parents (subject to eligibility criteria), and is designed to give more flexibility and choice to the new parents, allowing them to split the adoption entitlement during the first year.
Again, subject to eligibility criteria, the intended parents are also entitled to parental leave, allowing them to take up to 18 weeks’ unpaid leave for each child under the age of 18.
A maximum of four weeks’ leave can be taken per year, and must be taken in blocks of a week (unless the child is disabled).
The Lester Aldridge family team deal with these and other issues on a regular basis.
If you would like to discuss any aspect of divorce, separation, arrangements for your children or wish to protect your assets prior to getting married, contact the family team on 01202 786161 or email [email protected].