Ralph M. Tsong
Know Your Rights: Paid and Protected Leave in Surrogacy
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that was enacted in 1993 and provides eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for certain family and medical reasons. This includes the birth of a child, adoption or foster care placement, or care for an immediate family member with a serious health condition. The FMLA protects employers with 50 or more employees and to employees who have worked for the employer for at least 12 months and for at least 1,250 hours in the previous 12 months.
A surrogate’s or intended parents’ rights to family and medical leave may differ depending on which state they reside. Some states have their own family and medical leave laws that provide additional protections and benefits. Currently in 13 states, surrogates who are employed might be eligible for paid disability leave for pregnancy or child birth, while in others, intended parents who are employed might be eligible for baby bonding time.
We will discuss the states that attorneys at Tsong Law Group are licensed in:
In California, employees are eligible for up to 12 weeks of paid family leave to bond with a new child, including a child born through surrogacy. In addition, California law provides for up to 4 weeks paid disability leave for employees who need time off to recover from a pregnancy-related condition and 6 weeks paid disability leave for a normal delivery and 8 weeks for a cesarian section birth. California also has a pregnancy disability leave act which runs with the 12 weeks of federal FMLA leave but applies covers more employees, since to small employers of five people and extends the time to 16 weeks.
In New York, employees are eligible for up to 12 weeks of paid family leave for the birth, adoption or foster care placement of a child, or for the care of a close relative with a serious health condition. New York also provides for paid pregnant disability benefits for up to four weeks before due date and six weeks after giving birth (eight weeks if delivered by c-section). Employees must have worked 26 weeks for the employer in the past year, at least 20 hours a week.
In Washington, employees may apply for paid medical leave for pregnancy or delivery, and family leave to bond with a new child. Paid leave is up to 16 weeks of combined medical and family leave. Additionally, those who experienced pregnancy-related complications such as prescribed bedrest or a c-section, may take an additional two weeks of medical leave for a total of 18 weeks. The doctor must make sure to mark the pregnancy complication checkbox in their Certification of Serious Health Condition form. Employees must have worked over 820 hours in the past year.
Other states we are licensed in, Illinois, Arizona and Oklahoma, currently do not have state specific laws for protected or paid leave beyond federal law.
Below is a map of the United States showing states with Paid Family Leave Laws from the Bipartisan Policy Center.
FMLA is an unpaid benefit that can be taken by both the surrogate and her intended parents. If available in their state, paid disability leave can be taken by the surrogate, and paid family leave can be taken by the intended parents. If you or another party live in a state we are licensed in and we represent you in a surrogacy matter, you can ask us about your state’s disability leave law. It’s an important right and benefit that should be considered at the contract stage of a surrogacy journey.
This article is for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon without additional research or consulting an attorney. This article is not legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship with the reader.