How Do I Tell My Employer I’m a Surrogate?

When and what to tell your boss – and information on surrogate maternity leave

If you will be a surrogate while also working elsewhere, it’s completely understandable to ask, “Should I tell my employer I’m a surrogate?” Unlike egg donation, surrogacy is hard to keep fully private. At some point, you will start showing, and you will need time off to recover after giving birth. The good news is that the federal labor laws covering pregnancy and maternity leave cover surrogates as well. Here are some things to consider as you prepare to tell your boss about your surrogacy.

Do I Need to Tell My Employer I’m a Surrogate?

You are not obligated to tell anyone about your private medical decisions. That being said, if you want to take maternity leave, you will at least need to tell your employer that you are pregnant, so they can plan for your absence.

It’s up to you whether you want to tell them that you are a surrogate. Letting them know in advance may help with potentially awkward assumptions when you return to work after delivery. It also may help avoid well-intentioned gestures like an office baby shower. If you do decide to tell your employer, you can keep it very simple. Some examples are:

  • “I’m carrying the baby for another family.”
  • “I’m actually a surrogate.”

Neither your employer nor your coworkers need to know any details about your surrogacy agreement, compensation, or the intended parents. If they ask about details you are uncomfortable or unwilling to share, you can simply say, “My contract doesn’t allow me to share that information.”

When Should I Tell My Boss That I’m a Surrogate?

It’s up to you – but in general, there are two main schools of thought about when to talk to your boss or supervisor.

Option #1: Before Pregnancy

Some surrogates tell their boss about their plans once they are matched with the intended parents, but before the embryo transfer. This way, your employer has more context for why you will need to take some time off for medical appointments. If you have a strong and open relationship with your boss, they can even be a source of support as you go through the early stages of the surrogacy process.

Option #2: After Pregnancy Confirmation

Many people, surrogates or otherwise, wait to tell their employers until they have a confirmed pregnancy, or even after the 20-week ultrasound. This helps protect your privacy in the unfortunate case of a failed embryo transfer or early pregnancy loss.

At the very least, to receive federal maternity leave, you must give your employer 30 days notice. Your job may have their own policies about pregnancy disclosure and maternity leave, so be sure to check on those as well.

Do Surrogates Get Maternity Leave?

Yes – as a pregnant person, you are entitled to 12 weeks of maternity leave through the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • The FMLA only applies to certain employees and employers. If you work for a very small company or work on a part-time basis, you may not be eligible. You can find eligibility requirements here.
  • Your job must keep your position open for you to return to after your leave, and they must keep providing you with your employee health insurance during your leave.
  • The FMLA guarantees unpaid time off only. Your job may offer additional benefits or paid leave, so check on their policies.
  • If your job does not offer paid maternity leave, then the intended parents should provide compensation for any wages lost during the pregnancy and recovery time. Your surrogacy lawyer should make sure to include that in your surrogacy agreement.
  • Because surrogates do not have to care for a newborn while recovering from giving birth, they often recover more quickly. Typically, surrogates find they are able to return to work around 3-4 weeks after delivery. Regardless, listen to your body to make sure you are fully rested and recovered.

Balancing work with your surrogacy journey can feel complex. Ultimately, it’s up to you when, what, and how much to tell your employer about being a surrogate. We can help talk you through the decision to help get your employer on the same page, providing support during and after your pregnancy. If you’re interested in becoming a surrogate, apply today.

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