Under current legislation there is no right to maternity leave or maternity pay for those who have children via a surrogate mother.
Mothers who have their children naturally, through IVF, or through adoption are currently entitled to 90 per cent of their average gross weekly earnings with no upper limit for the first six weeks of their maternity leave. After that, they can receive 33 weeks at the lower of either the standard rate of £135.45, or 90 per cent of your average gross weekly earnings. The remaining weeks of leave are unpaid.
In total, all of these mothers are eligible to take one year off work to spending caring for and bonding with their children.
Mothers who are unable to have their own children, and so chose to have their children by surrogate, however, have much lesser rights. They are entitled to just 13 weeks of unpaid parental leave. And they are only entitled to this when they have a parental order in place formally transferring the legal responsibility and legal rights from the surrogate mother to them.
This anomaly is something that needs to be addressed.
Surrogacy may be suitable for those who cannot carry a child due to absence or disease of the uterus, or where assisted conception has failed. A surrogate mother is a woman who bears a child on behalf of another.
Because one of his constituents is in a surrogacy situation, and unable to take leave to care for her new twins, Mr Healey, MP for Wentworth and Dearne has raised the issue in Parliament, stating: “'Surely there must be a good case for Britain, like some states in the US to have a system of pre-birth orders. But the first and most important step is to secure basic maternity rights so that mothers...who have their children born through surrogates have the same rights as any other mothers who give birth themselves or indeed who adopt children.'
This situation is the same regardless of whether the baby is made using the mothers fertilized eggs, or the surrogates fertilized eggs.
Mr Healey is asking that leave be given to bring in a Bill to make leave, pay and allowance arrangements for parents of children born to surrogate mothers equal to those available to parents whose children are born to them.
Have you considered having your children via surrogate? Would the fact you are unable to take maternity leave to look after your new child put you off? We would love to hear your thoughts on the matter.