Some days I feel very proud of what we do here, and today is one of those days. After a campaign of more than five years, I am thrilled to post that the government announced yesterday that they would be introducing adoption leave (equivalent to maternity leave) rights for parents through surrogacy.
Until now, parents whose biological child is carried by another woman have had no rights to time off work when their new baby arrives, unlike parents who give birth or who adopt a child. This has been grossly unfair, and resulted in parents through surrogacy having to quit their jobs or go back to work if their employer does not (or cannot) give leave on a discretionary basis.
The new rights will be introduced as part of the government’s maternity leave and adoption leave reforms, expected to come into force in 2015. Although the full detail has yet to be confirmed, we know that parents through surrogacy will be entitled to two antenatal appointments during the pregnancy, and adoption leave after the birth. This will be available to all couples eligible to apply for a parental order, including heterosexual parents and gay dads. Surrogate mothers will also retain their right to maternity leave to recover from giving birth.
More information is available in the government’s response to the consultation on modern workplaces which says:
We propose that intended parents in surrogacy cases who satisfy the criteria for a Parental
Order and intend to apply, or have applied, to a court for a Parental Order will be entitled to
leave and pay on the same basis as adopters who are eligible for statutory adoption leave
and pay, subject to the qualifying conditions and evidential requirements. In addition, both
intended parents will be entitled to take unpaid time off to attend two antenatal appointments
with the surrogate mother carrying their child.
What is so exciting about the change, as well as the practical legal rights it will introduce for new parents, is that this is the very first time in UK legal history that parents through surrogacy have been recognised as having any rights in advance of the birth of their child. This is a very significant recognition that surrogacy is real and here to stay, and hopefully a first step towards wider reform of our surrogacy laws.
There is more information about surrogacy law on our website, and more about our campaigning work.
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